Minnesota Brewers Call on Lawmakers to 'Save the Growler'

Growlers have become a popular way to drink local craft brews—and those 64-ounce containers are key to the success of small businesses like Stillwater's Lift Bridge Brewing Co. But if their growth continues, growlers may be a thing of the past.

After touring one of Stillwater’s micro-breweries, grabbing a growler to go just seems natural.

Growlers have become a popular way to drink local craft brews—and those 64-ounce containers are key to the success of small, local businesses like Lift Bridge Brewing Co.

But as craft breweries grow, current Minnesota law takes away their ability to sell growlers.

So, the Minnesota Brewer’s Association launched a fight to “Save the Growler,” urging state legislators to allow craft brewers of all sizes to sell beer drinkers those beloved jugs.

“One by one, the craft beers you know and love risk falling victim to Minnesota’s restrictive growler regulations,” a post on savethegrowler.org reads. “Right now, breweries can sell growlers if their annual production is 3,500 barrels or less. But once a brewery surpasses that level, state law prohibits them from selling any growlers. Ever. Gone is an important source of revenue these small businesses need for growth. Gone, too, is the freedom of choice once available to the brewery faithful.”

Lift Bridge Brewing Co. will likely exceed that 3,500-barrel mark this year, Co-owner Dan Schwartz told KSTP.

“As you continue to grow, you do get penalized and you do take a step backwards, so that is certainly frustrating,” Schwartz said. “It is a great source of revenue for us, and it really does help us grow, buy more equipment and invest in more people.”

Selling growlers to consumers gives brewers a direct line of revenue from their beer, a post on Minnesota Beer Activists reads. “When a brewery sells growlers they don’t have the added expense of transporting the beer to market and from the retailer, or worry about the additional investment in kegs.”

The Minnesota Brewer’s Association is not seeking to expand the quantity of growlers craft brewers can sell (500 barrels per year) or asking for funding or tax breaks.

Brewers are simply asking legislators to raise the cap on the growlers, Schwartz said, “so we can continue to sell them, even at this small level.”

RELATED: Lift Bridge Brewing Co's Silhouette Release Party is Feb. 9

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VIDEO: Lift Bridge Brews Beer With Oysters and Teamwork

Lift Bridge Ribbon Cutting

Lift Bridge Brewing Commander Barleywine Release Party is Nov. 17

PHOTOS: Rep. Betty McCollum Visits Stillwater

Staples Mill Brewing Co

VIDEO: Staples Mill's Small-Batch Approach to Brewing Beer

Micro-breweries Push To Save Sales of 'Growlers' (KSTP)

Thunderclap: Save the growler

Save the Growler

Minn. beer makers launch "Save the Growler" campaign (Bring Me the News)

Save the Growler? (Minnesota Beer Activists)

Are Minnesota Breweries Being Punished for Success? (KARE 11)

Shawn Hogendorf February 21, 2013 at 09:26 PM
I'm flattered, Randy. (we really do need a sarcasm font) First of all, the business tab at the top of the page tells a different story. That said, I can only get to so much ... and this platform is open to any and all businesses to post announcements and events. Although this is a business story, it is also about a law that only impacts Lift Bridge at this point. The news is they will more than likely manufacture and produce 3,500 barrels this year, and in their eyes, be penalized for it. No other business in the Stillwater area is in that position. (wait, does Smalley's brew beer?) As always, I appreciate your concern -- and am happy this is your only news source, but if I may offer up a piece of advice ... please venture out, inform yourself on these topics and feel free to share your knowledge with us.
Randy Marsh February 21, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, Shawn, I did check out the business tab but what I primarily saw was stories that don't have much to do with the actual business unless something criminal occurred there, whether the business was directly involved or not. After walking through your kind suggestion, I did a quick search of Lift Bridge Brewery and scrolled through several pages of results and it seems there is, at minimum, about an entry a month. Smalley's had slightly fewer entries but I think it's fair to assume if either of those establishments (as I said, I enjoy both, along with many other wonderful places in town that Patch does not seem nearly as enamored with) takes a dump it is suddenly big news. Not looking to pick a fight, but it just seems a tad unfair to other businesses in town.
Randy Marsh February 22, 2013 at 12:39 AM
I didn't think Susan was much of a drinker, but when it comes to knowing just exactly when the brewery is unveiling it's sixth seasonal beer in 13 months I guess she feels it is newsworthy. I had noticed this previously, but it didn't really bother me because it's my choice to not read those particular items, but a friend who runs a bar downtown had mentioned that it's only a select few places that seem to get an inordinate amount of attention from this site, but he's not one to stir the pot so I thought i would throw it out there.
Shawn Hogendorf February 22, 2013 at 01:13 AM
Exactly, Susan. Randy, tell your friend -- or any business owners you know in town -- if they feel ignored or slighted in any way they can post announcements, events and blogs themselves or send me an email or press release if they have something they would like featured. It's not some exclusive club. Bottom line, I can't highlight something I don't know about. Many of the items you mention were written and posted by the owners or managers of those businesses. This platform is free and open to any business owner, manager or Patch user who would like to take the time to participate or let me know what's happening. I'm one person doing the editorial side of this site. This isn't a newspaper, anyone can contribute or publish things they would like to highlight.
yomammy February 22, 2013 at 01:30 PM
gluten free beer---gack! If ever become alergic to beer, I am throwing myself off the new stillwater bridge (if ever built...and after i pay the toll...)


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