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Sunday liquor sales going for small sips

A Minnesota Senate committee is considering “baby steps” that eventually could lead toward Sunday liquor sales.

Bills sponsored by Sen. Roger Reinert, D-Duluth, would allow Sunday refills and sales of beer jugs, popularly known as growlers, and allow taprooms to be open. The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to include the provisions in an overall liquor bill it will pass in coming days.

“These are baby steps towards full repeal of the Sunday liquor law ban, but they also represent important issues of equity,” Reinert said. “Currently, vineyards across the state can sell their product on Sundays; these bills would allow craft brewers to do the same.”

Ben Flattum testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on behalf of the Minnesota brewers association.

“You know, if a patron attends a game or event, then they should be able to get a pint after,” Flattum said. “It doesn’t make sense they can’t do it on the seventh day (Sunday).”

Reinert has fought for years to allow Sunday liquor sales, but has not found the votes to pass that measure.

A representative of Canal Park Brewing in Duluth testified that inability to sell growlers on Sundays significantly inhibits the ability to bring in revenue.

Other local breweries in Duluth rallied behind the idea of possible liquor sales on a Sunday.

“I would support the idea because it would be beneficial in customer satisfaction,” Dan Frigaard, manager at Fitger’s Brewhouse Brewery and Grille, told the News Tribune. “I think it would increase business to a certain extent. It would definitely increase traffic to our beer store.”

Even though Lake Superior Brewing Company isn’t open on Sundays, they still think it would be helpful for other brew pubs in the city.

“We aren’t open on Sundays, but I think it would be good for local brew pubs,” said Dale Kleinschmidt, head brewer and one of the owners at Lake Superior Brewing Company. “We are looking at ideas of possibly opening on a Sunday if the Sunday liquor sales are approved.”

Reinert emphasized the positive impact of beer as an economic engine for the state.

“The craft brewing industry contributes immensely to Minnesota’s economy,” Reinert said. “In 2012, it helped add nearly

$742 million to the state economy, and in 2013 it contributed nearly 8,000 jobs.”

Alysee Shelton of the News Tribune contributed to this story.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.