IT'S TIME FOR THE MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE TO CRAFT LAWS THAT SUPPORT CRAFT BREWING
Minnesota craft breweries are small, independent businesses with an enormous and growing impact on local and state economies and the communities they serve. While craft beer represents only a small fraction of the total beer sold in Minnesota, our state's craft brewers contribute thousands of stable, well paying jobs and billions of dollars of economic impact. As small businesses, craft breweries also face significant economic challenges including higher costs for production, smaller economies of scale, and higher barriers to entry into distribution agreements to get their products into retail liquor stores. These barriers to entry exist because of misalignments that are emerging between Minnesota's three-tier system of alcohol regulation and the realities to the modern beer marketplace, the impacts of which are negatively affecting brewers, distributors, and independent liquor stores. The success of Minnesota's craft beer sector depends on the success of our three-tier system. It's time for Minnesota's state legislature to enact sensible reforms that allow craft breweries to better serve consumers and maintain our three-tier systems's legacy of success into the future.
SUPPORT CONSUMER-DRIVEN TAPROOM PACKAGING
Under the current law, Minnesota craft breweries are only allowed to sell beer to customers for off-premise consumption in 64 oz growlers. In order to ensure sales from taprooms do not trade-off with sales from local liquor stores, breweries are limited to an annual limit of 750 barrels that they can sell for off-premise consumption. Minnesota also imposes a "growler cap" that prohibits breweries from selling growlers to-go at all if they produce more than 20,000 barrels of beer per year.
Several of Minnesota's most popular and successful breweries have hit or are close to hitting the growler cap and will soon be forced to either reduce the amount of beer they produce for distribution to retail or stop selling the taproom growlers that drive consumer interest in their product to begin with. At the same time, many of Minnesota's craft breweries are currently unable to sell their products in liquor stores because they are too small to have the demonstrated consumer demand or production volumes that wholesalers require for entering distribution agreements.
The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild is proposing a solution to the challenges facing craft brewers of all sizes. Instead of raising the growler cap, the Guild seeks to amend off-sale restrictions to allow breweries & brewpubs to sell up to 768 oz of beer per customer per day in any vessel size or style for off-premise consumption, subject to the existing 750 barrel cap annual cap.
This is consistent with the intended purpose of allowing limited taproom and brewpub off-sales, which is to enable small breweries to directly market their products in order to build brand recognition and consumer demand.
It ensures that the beer marketed to consumers is packaged in a manner that ensures freshness and intended flavor at the point of consumption.
It responds to overwhelming consumer demand and expectations and is consistent with both national packaging trends and craft beer laws in other states.
It enables small breweries to make earlier investment in canning and bottling infrastructure and, consequently, accelerate their ability to enter distribution and retail.
It gives liquor stores access to continuously new products, which is what today's retail beer consumers demand most.
It allows breweries to sell seasonal and experimental beers that are produced in quantities too limited for wholesale distribution.
It supports responsible consumption by allowing consumers to enjoy individual servings of beer without concern that the rest will go flat.