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Growler cap amendment dropped from liquor bill

Beertender Abigail Conlin of Duluth fills a growler for a customer at the Bent Paddle Brewery taproom in Duluth. State law prevents breweries that produce more than 20,000 barrels of beer per year from selling off-sale, usually in the form of growlers, out of the brewery’s taproom. A rider in an omnibus bill in the Minnesota Senate that would have doubled that selling capacity died Thursday. file / News Tribune

An amendment that would have allowed Minnesota breweries producing more than 20,000 barrels of beer per year to continue selling growlers was dropped from the Senate's Omnibus Liquor Bill on Thursday.

Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, introduced an amendment to bump the production cap up from 20,000 barrels to 40,000 barrels. State law currently prevents breweries that produce more than that annual cap from selling off-sale, in growlers or crowlers, out of its taproom.

But the amendment faced opposition from several senators who argued the change would erode the "three-tier system of distribution" of producer, distributor and retailer, and Housley later withdrew the amendment.

Two fast-growing northland breweries, Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors and Bent Paddle Brewing Co. in Duluth, who have surpassed or are near that annual cap, have said those breweries would soon need to sacrifice growler sales in order to keep production growing.

The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, a lobbying group representing the state's craft brewing industry, had originally called for the cap to increase to 250,000 barrels per year, but Housley dropped that to 40,000 barrels in her amendment Thursday.

Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, thanked Housley for dropping the growler cap amendment.

"No one wants to vote for the 40,000-barrel limit more than me — Castle Danger is in my district," Bakk said, but added that he was opposed to other changes pushed by the Craft Brewers Guild that would allow taprooms to sell off-sale in smaller containers from brewery taprooms.

Instead, Bakk said "both sides" need to meet and make further compromises to ensure local liquor stores would not be affected.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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