The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 26, 2013

It's time to roll out the beer bills


Winnebago Brew Fest

Rosen, a Fairmont Republican whose district includes Winnebago, introduced her legislation by providing recollections of her own visit to June's inaugural Winnebago Craft Brew Fest. Rosen didn't mention if she found any lemony fruitiness or hints of chocolate and raisin in the beverages she tried there, but she praised the quality of the event pulled off by the town of 1,400 people.   

"It was flipping fun," Rosen said. "It was really fun."

By getting special legislation passed a year ago, Winnebago was able to attract brewers from Iowa and Nebraska because they were exempted from fees and brand registration typically required to sell beer in Minnesota. Rosen's legislation would continue that exemption for at least another year.

"They're expecting 1,500 this year -- up from 800," Rosen told the committee.

And attendance might grow beyond that estimate if Rosen brings her bill Ñ and her glowing review -- to many more legislative committees.

Commerce Committee Chairman Jim Metzen all-but-promised Rosen that the provision would be in the omnibus bill, on one condition ... .

"This is quite an event," Metzen said. "But you better let the members and the chair know the dates."

Schell's and Summit

Dahms, a Republican who represents New Ulm in the Senate, is making a second attempt to expand the state's definition of "small brewer." The definition matters because the state provides a nonrefundable tax credit -- $4.60 per barrel on up to 25,000 barrels sold each year -- to breweries manufacturing less than 100,000 barrels annually.

New Ulm's August Schell Brewing Company and St. Paul's Summit Brewing Company produce just more than 100,000 barrels, leaving them ineligible for the credit. Schell President Ted Marti was unable to attend Monday's hearing, but Summit President Mark Stutrud spoke on behalf of both breweries in support of Dahms' legislation to extend the credit to brewers of up to 250,000 barrels a year.

While that may seem like a lot of beer, Stutrud said it pales in comparison to the really big breweries. Anheuser-Busch, for instance, tops 100 million barrels annually.

The latest estimate on the cost to the state's coffers of expanding the credit was $390,000 a year.


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