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Growler cap increase, more liquor-related changes pass House, head to governor’s desk

The House debate on the omnibus liquor bill agreement began shortly after 5 p.m.

On a Friday.

Cue Jimmy Buffett.

It does not address Margaritaville, but a provision that would raise the cap on growler sales is included in the conference committee report passed by both chambers.

Sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids) and Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls), HF2767/SF3008* was passed 111-21 by the House. Senate passage was 62-4 a few hours earlier. It now goes to the governor.

“We have really, really good retailers in this state — great liquor stores, great municipal liquor stores, great restaurants, great bars,” Stephenson said. “We have really great wholesalers and distributers who provide good union jobs.”

The growler cap was one of the higher profile provisions of the bill.

Currently, breweries that produce more than 20,000 barrels of beer annually cannot sell growlers onsite. The proposed legislation would increase the limit to 150,000 barrels and include the state’s six largest craft breweries – Surly, Summit, Lift Bridge, Fulton, Schell’s and Castle Danger.

Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) said he’s been talking about growlers and bottle size since he joined the Legislature in 2015, and not a lot had changed in the state liquor laws for 80 years.

“We are about to do something historic,” he said, calling the final bill a win for the many craft producers. 

Other provisions included in the final version would:

  • eliminate container size regulations for craft breweries, allowing them to sell six-packs, four-packs, and other small containers;
  • allow all distilleries in the state to have cocktail rooms;
  • permit municipalities to issue seven-day temporary liquor licenses for county fairs;
  • let a municipality issue an on-sale or malt liquor license for sales at "town ball" baseball games;
  • extend hours for alcohol sales during live World Cup soccer matches;
  • provide special on-sale liquor licenses for events in Willmar, Sauk Rapids, St. Paul, Rochester, Alexandria and St. Cloud;
  • allow Anoka to create an outdoor social district where consumption of alcohol is permitted; and
  • address a previous issue with the Coleman Act that prohibits exclusive contracts in the sale of hard spirits by treating in-state and out-of-state manufacturers similarly.

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