Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL-Saint Paul), Senator Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis), and Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) have co-authored a bill to bring more revenue to Minnesota breweries by allowing them to sell growlers. Currently, Minnesota statute prohibits any brewery in Minnesota that produces 20,000 or more barrels of beer per year from selling growlers to its customers. Due to the “growler cap,” some Minnesotan craft breweries are not able to sell growlers, keeping much-needed revenue from them, especially when many of them have been hit hard during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need, even more, to allow breweries in our state to sell growlers,” said Senator Sandy Pappas. “Breweries that have been allowed to sell growlers were able to keep their business from going under amid all the pandemic-related closures. These breweries that were open for pick-up orders kept workers employed, kept revenue up, and moved product off their brewery floor. The growler is the perfect opportunity to help these small businesses remain afloat during these hard times.”
“We shouldn’t be denying revenue to our small businesses during a time when it is much needed,” said Senator Kari Dziedzic. “All the breweries that have a taproom generate additional profits. In some cases, the sale of growlers can contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for brewery taprooms that employ hourly workers. If a taproom loses growler sales, that loss in revenue must be absorbed often resulting in the layoff of taproom employees.”
“Like nearly all industries, the craft brewing industry has been hit hard by this pandemic,” said Senator Scott Dibble. “Why are we going to deny a small business an opportunity to increase sales and profit? Our craft beer small businesses have been forced with the decision to either continue to lose revenue from not being able to sell growlers, or to stop growing to keep growler revenue under the cap – the revenue that is vital to the breweries’ taproom and employees.”
The growler cap is intended to protect distributors and liquor retailers by ensuring breweries utilize Minnesota’s three-tiered distribution system rather than self-distribute their products or sell on-site. Breweries use growlers for research and development for testing new small-batch beer to see if customers like it, then it can be mass-produced and distributed through the three-tiered system. The growler cap was also intended to protect smaller breweries against breweries that have grown to a size considered to be “big business” by some. All Minnesota breweries are small businesses – employing no more than 75 workers. Minnesota’s largest brewery, Schell’s, produces about 112,000 barrels of beer each year; in comparison: Samuel Adams – also a “craft” brewery – who competes with our Minnesota craft breweries – produces over 4 million barrels per year.