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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Liz Olson (DFL)

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RELEASE: Duluth lawmakers vote for compromise liquor law modernizations

Friday, May 20, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today following a bipartisan, bicameral agreement, the Minnesota House and Senate both approved a compromise package of legislation updating Minnesota’s liquor laws. Many measures in the bill are designed to support Minnesota’s booming craft beer and spirits industries, which includes several businesses in Duluth.

“As our craft beverage industry has grown, Minnesota consumers and small businesses have been counting on overdue changes to our outdated liquor laws. I’m proud this legislation includes several key initiatives to help small breweries and distilleries, including those right here in Duluth,” said Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Duluth), who served on the joint House/Senate conference committee charged with reaching an agreement. “Successfully reaching this agreement required all impacted parties to come to the table, and it didn’t include every idea industry advocates sought. However, this package will make a big difference both for consumers and for the innovative, ambitious, and creative folks in communities across the state who make beer, spirits, and wine so they can continue to grow and succeed.”

Under the bill, small breweries will be able to sell more products directly to consumers, including six- and four-packs of beer. Meanwhile, micro-distilleries will be allowed to sell spirits in larger 750ml quantities while more distilleries will be allowed to operate cocktail rooms. Members of the state’s craft beverage industry applauded the measures, including Ben Hugus, founder of Ursa Minor Brewing in Duluth.

"As a small brewer in this amazing state, we are very excited to see liquor laws take a small step towards modernization. It will feel really good to finally be able to finally sell a 16oz can to-go in our taproom!” Hugus said. “A lot of different folks came together to find compromise here, and while not exactly what everyone envisioned, at the end of the day, progress feels great."

Currently, breweries including Castle Danger, Surly, Summit, Schell’s, and Fulton are prohibited from selling growlers to-go from their taprooms because they produce more than 20,000 barrels annually. The legislation increases this cap to 150,000.

“The craft beer and spirits industries are important economic drivers in our Duluth community, but due to outdated liquor laws, they’ve experienced growing pains,” said Rep. Jen Schultz (DFL – Duluth). “Like other businesses, craft breweries and distilleries experienced difficulties during the pandemic at an inopportune time for many of them. I’m hopeful the changes we’re delivering today as a result of a broad consensus will help them continue to thrive in Minnesota.”

“It is because of overwhelming grassroots advocacy – much of it from Duluthians – as well as the diligence and hard work of my colleagues that this legislation has moved forward today,” said Sen. Jen McEwen (DFL – Duluth). “It is so satisfying to see a bill like this move forward.”

Among other provisions, the bill also:

  • Allows municipalities to issue on-sale wine or beer licenses to town baseball teams
  • Allows liquor stores to sell limes and glassware
  • Allows municipalities the option to issue special on-sale liquor licenses to permit sales during live men’s and women’s World Cup soccer telecasts
  • Allows county fairs to sell liquor – if approved by a municipality – for up to seven days

The bill now heads to Governor Walz’s desk for his anticipated signature.