ST. PAUL, MINN. – Thanks to a bill chief-authored by Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids) that went into effect in May, when small and large towns alike hold beer brewing and tasting gatherings, they will no longer be breaking the law. The illegality of home wine and beer tastings was brought to the attention of Deer River Bar-B-Que and Brew Fest organizers last year. For years, the popular festival had been operating illegally by serving homebrew beer to the general public. Organizers, joined by several other local brewers and brew club owners solicited help from Sen. Saxhaug.
“Of all the bills I’ve helped pass over the years, this had to be one of the more fun ones to work on,” said Sen. Saxhaug. “It was a fairly simple matter of stating plainly in the legal code that home brewers can offer free samples of their product to the general public, as long as they aren’t selling it.”
Given the high profile nature of other liquor and beer related bills in the legislature, organizers didn’t want to rock the boat. The bill was supported by the Boreal Brewers Homebrew Club of Grand Rapids and met little resistance as it made its way through the committee process. The bill was eventually included in the Omnibus Liquor Bill and was passed into law.
As for the Deer River Bar-B-Que and Brew Fest, the festival now in its fifth year will return to normal this weekend on July 19.
“The story of how this law came to be is a perfect example of legislative problem solving. When communities come to their elected representatives with a problem and work together to find a solution, everyone can go home happy – and have a free sample of beer without breaking the law,” said Sen. Saxhaug.