The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 8, 2014

Sunday beer sales help craft brewers

Why it matters: Lawmakers won't go far enough by lifting Sunday liquor sale ban, but growler exemption is helpful.

State lawmakers couldn’t bring themselves to agree on lifting a ban on off-sale Sunday alcohol sales, but they seem to agree on a welcome change that would give a boost to Minnesota’s growing craft beer makers.

As we’ve said in the past, we don’t believe the state should be telling private businesses when they can or can’t be open for business.

But doing away with the ban on Sunday sales at liquor retailers has never been able to gain enough support.

While popular with consumers, the ban stays in place because the liquor retailer industry itself doesn’t want the change.

They say most of their members would rather be closed on Sunday, so long as they all have to be closed.

But a proposal moving through the Legislature would allow small breweries to begin selling 64-ounce “growlers” on Sundays.

The ability to sell growlers is seen as a boost to craft brewers such as Mankato Brewery and by two soon-to-be-built breweries in the area — one in Blue Earth and one near Waseca.

The owners don’t expect growlers will be a huge revenue stream, but they provide one of the most important things small craft brewers need — good marketing.

Most people who find a craft beer they like and buy a growler will share it with friends at a party or grill-out. That exposes the brands to more potential customers.

Craft breweries are a growing part of the economy and in high demand by customers who like the idea of a local craft brewer making a wide variety of beers.

Like the rapid growth in Minnesota wineries, craft brewers are becoming an important part not only of the economy but of the quality of life of an area.

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