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Craft brewery industry bids farewell to St. Paul's Tin Whiskers; continues its road to recovery

Although COVID-19 was hard on establishments industry-wide, the news that St. Paul's Tin Whiskers is closing came as a surprise to many in the brewery business.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The announcement of the closure of downtown St. Paul's beloved brewery Tin Whiskers came as a surprise even to industry professionals.

"I think we were just as shocked as anyone. Tin Whiskers was one of my favorite places to go and have a pint," Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild director of government and industry relations Bob Galligan said. "The state of the union of breweries are — you know we're coming out of a pandemic; no one is exceeding expectations. Having said that, very few of our member breweries had to close, which is, I think more than anything, a testament to some of the creativity and resilience of just the craft brewing industry in general."

But that very industry wasn't immune to any of the other ailments COVID brought along.

"We're dealing with the same things that a lot of industries are: short staffing, supply chain issues. You know, again we had to deal with an entire pandemic of our taprooms being shut down so we're all kind of trying to build back from that," Galligan added.

In terms of demand, according to the National Beer Brewers Association, it's down for the year 2020.

But Minnesota specifically has been on a steady incline of the number of craft breweries opening within the state.

Which then brings us to the conversation of beer bubbles, and when the bubble might burst.

"That's more than anything up to the market to decide, not necessarily the brewers in my opinion," Galligan said. "I do think there is more room for growth in my opinion. As of right now, most of our member breweries are densely packed within the metro surrounding areas. There's definitely more room for more breweries out in greater Minnesota."

Another key issue that remains to be solved for the industry rides on a liquor omnibus bill that's making its way through the legislature.

"I think it will be a good thing for the small brewers to be able to sell in different packages since there is an aluminum can shortage, package it however the brewer deems it easiest and most beneficial," Galligan said. "And then for larger members, which are still family owned, independent craft breweries. This will allow them to fill up a growler and sell it to go."

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