ST. PAUL, Minn. -- There's a conversation brewing within the city council chambers of St. Paul. Council members are thinking about a plan that would change the definition of microbreweries.
Right now, microbreweries in the Capitol City can produce no more than 5,000 barrels annually; the new plan would allow them to produce 20,000 barrels under similar zoning provisions.
"It's putting it out there to see how it's going to work. I think there will be differences in different neighborhoods. It's really going to be tricky where these things can actually be sited," Council member Dan Bostrom said.
The plan got its first reading the first week of December. 2 more hearings will be scheduled after that, including one that allows for public testimony. The full council is likely to vote on the plan early next year.
"We're getting ready to brew our first batches here at Burning Brothers. It's been 4 years in the making," Dane Breimhorst explained.
Breimhorst and his friend and business partner have put a lot of work into getting their St. Paul microbrewery up and running. They have spent countless hours talking to zoning officials and city council members, hoping to get more relaxed barrel restrictions like Minneapolis.
"If we can level the playing field between the 2 we might find a couple more breweries opening here," he explained.
Breimhorst says there are a couple new brew houses just down the street, and another larger one nearby in Minneapolis. He says it's quite possible that the Twin Cities could be a micro-brew destination like Denver, which has similar demographics.
"Oh, we'll take over Denver. If you look at the population in Denver, seriously, they're mostly from Minnesota," he joked.
The Burning Brothers will offer a gluten-free brew. They'll be one of the few brewers in the nation to do so. They're also very excited to be part of this micro-community in Minnesota where brewers make up a close-knit group looking at more market growth on the horizon.
"Nobody knows where the magic ceiling is. We're all watching it, going, it's got to be up there. But what's nice is the more that the market is saturated, more and more people are becoming more and more finicky about the beer they drink," Breimhorst concluded.
In 2011, the state legislature approved a plan allowing microbreweries to have tap rooms in their facilities.