Sunday sales hearings for brewers only

Senate Commerce and House Commerce Committees heard several bills related to liquor, wine, and beer in Minnesota. Chairs of the commerce committees tend to only want to hear bills that are mostly free of controversy and contention, so it is no surprise that a full repeal on Sunday liquor sales ban wasn’t heard. Understandably, it can be hard to find support for a bill when committee members and legislators are consistently lobbied to keep pre-prohibition era laws in place by special interest groups and municipal liquor stores.

Controversy, special interests, and paid lobbying aside, it is disappointing that neither the House Commerce Committee or Senate Commerce Committee opted to hear one of the less controversial versions of the various Sunday Sales bills that would have given local jurisdictions a “local option” or a choice to opt-in / opt-out of Sunday liquor off-sale commerce. It is important to remember that under these bipartisan authored bills, the possible legalization of Sunday liquor sales would never force a store to be open whether it is a corporate giant, Mom & Pop (anyone sick of that term yet?), or municipal store. While not an ideal situation, a local option would allow Sunday sales regulations to be tailored to fit the specifics needs and wants of local jurisdictions.

We can speculate on the reasons why a bill to repeal Sunday liquor sales didn’t get heard. Maybe the paid professional lobbyists are too good, perhaps legislators didn’t hear from enough consumers, or maybe some legislators just don’t give a damn about voters. Whatever the case is, a repeal on Sunday liquor sales won’t be moving through commerce the commerce committees this session.

On a more positive note, small brewers in Minnesota were given 3 positive hearings. Bills allowing taprooms to open on Sundays, allow growler sales on Sundays, and allow brewers the option to fill growlers from other brewers were all laid over for possible inclusion into a larger liquor omnibus to be voted on sometime in the future. Of the 3 brewer bills that were heard only one had a similar version heard in the House committee. That means that a conference committee will be required to work out any possible differences between Senate and House versions of the omnibus liquor bills.

We are really excited to move forward with Sunday growler sales. I look forward to a day in the near future when we can host beer lovers from near and far in our new Marshall, MN taproom and send them home with a growler of locally brewed craft beer to enjoy with friends.
-Dustin Brau, Brau Brothers Brewing Brewmaster and CEO

It is great to see Minnesota craft brewers afforded the options already available to their farm winery counterparts. The easing of these restrictions will undoubtedly help Minnesota craft brewers well into the future.

S.F. 2374
HF 2513
Reinert
Swedzinski
Small brewers growlers sale on Sundays authorization.
Sunday liquor sales of growlers by small brewers allowed.
(matching language non-companion)
S.F. 2375 Reinert Sunday sales at taprooms authorization.
(house companion not heard)
S.F. 2029 Reinert Malt liquor brewers growler refill authorization.
(house companion not heard)
S.F. 2014
HF 2200
Pappas
Atkins, Hoppe, Loeffler
Microdistilleries sales expansion authorization.
Microdistillery sales expanded. (non-matching language companion)

Video of Senate Commerce Testimony
Audio of House Commerce Testimony

Also in the great news category is potential progress for Minnesota microdistilleries. They had a pair of bills laid over that included language allowing for cocktail room (think taproom). Some negotiating is still being worked on to allow microdistilleries to sell bottles of their product. Hopefully this happens soon, Minnesota wineries and breweries sell 750ml packaged versions of their products. Minnesota microdistilleries should have parity.

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About the author

Andrew is just a guy that likes beer. You can usually find him on the twitters or spending time with his family.