Are Minnesota breweries being punished for success?

6:50 PM, Feb 19, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - The booming microbrewery business is finding out that in Minnesota success comes with a drawback.

As breweries grow, they are being forced to retire an aspect of their business called growlers, a half-gallon jug of beer that can be purchased at the brewery.

"Growler's are very popular," says Jim Diley, co-owner of Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood.

"People really like coming into the brewery, seeing what's new, talking with the brewer and then leaving with the product that's made right there," Diley says.

This year, business is booming at Fulton Brewery and production is expected to exceed 3,500 barrels of beer. Unfortunately, that's when state law says they can no longer sell growlers or any packaged beer directly from the brewery.

This has prompted the Minnesota Brewers Association to launch a "Save the Growler" campaign.

"We simply want to be able to continue what we are doing today in a year from now when we go over that limit," says Diley.

The original law was meant to protect the three-tier liquor system which separates producers, wholesale distributors and retailers.

Current law already bans an individual brewery from exceeding 500 barrels in growler sales each year. Fulton and others think that's enough and the size of the brewery shouldn't matter.

"By losing the growlers you lose an aspect of the energy behind our industry," says Diley.

Other breweries, like Surley, have already reached their cap and can no longer sell growlers.

Without a change in law, Fulton could be next.

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