Local breweries push for ability to sell six-packs

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If someone tastes Ursa Minor’s King Cabana Boi sour and wants to take some of the craft beer home with them, they have two options: a 25-ounce crowler or a 64-ounce growler.

But the brewery’s founder, Ben Hugus, hopes they’ll have new options soon: four- or six-packs.

"Minnesota’s the last one that we can’t do it," he said. "Every state around us, you can do that. Wisconsin, you can sell four- and six-packs. Every state."

Ursa Minor recently shared a graphic on Instagram encouraging their customers to contact their lawmaker. In order for breweries to sell six-packs out of their taprooms, liquor laws would have to be changed. Ursa Minor has been advocating for that change since they opened in 2018.

"I think it’s going to hold back the state in the long run if we don’t pass any change," Hugus said. "We’re going to see a decline. And we don’t want to see that. No one wants to."

Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth) said the state is "past due" on making adjustments.

"We have a system that perhaps worked for awhile, but with changes in the way businesses, the craft distillers and brewers and things are happening, especially in Duluth, … our laws have not kept up with those changes," Olson said.

She said in the Minnesota House, a bill to make the change to allow six-packs is moving on from the Commerce committee to Ways and Means.

"Typically, liquor bills don’t move out of Commerce until there is compromise, so this is a really good sign," she said.

Rep. Olson feels confident the measure will pass this year.

Hugus is hopeful, especially because Ursa Minor already cans six-packs for liquor stores, adding to his frustration.

"We can 16-ounce cans for the liquor stores that are just down the street. And customers see us doing it and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll grab one of those.’ And we’re like, ‘You have to buy this can,’" he said, referencing a crowler. "And they’re like, ‘Why? That’s really dumb.’ And I’m like, ‘I know. I don’t know what to tell you. Call your legislator.’"

The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild is encouraging people to send a letter or message too.

Olson also hopes to make progress this session on Minnesota’s growler cap on its largest breweries, which prevents them from selling growlers once they reach 20,000 barrels produced annually.