State senate bill introduced to expand bottle sales and production limits for Minnesota microdistilleries

Minnesota Capitol // Photo by Kevin Kramer

Minnesota’s small distilleries are lobbying to remove the need for those tiny bottles in their cocktail rooms.

A bill numbered S.F. 3870 was introduced to the Minnesota State Senate on March 2, 2020, that would increase the limits on how much off-sale product a distillery can sell to visitors. The bill would amend section 340A to allow small distilleries to sell “up to 4.5 liters per customer per day of product manufactured on-site.”

That amount is the equivalent of six standard 750-milliliter bottles of spirit. The amendment also erases mention of 375-milliliter bottles (currently, it’s the only size allowable for cocktail room sales, at a rate of one per person per day.) By eliminating that language, the bill would almost certainly spell the end of those small bottles in Minnesota, which distillers largely see as a hindrance to their normal bottling operations.

“The question we hear over and over again is ‘why can’t I buy a ‘real’ bottle?’” says Mark Schiller, founder at Loon Liquors, via press release. “Our visitors don’t understand why they can’t buy our products like they’re accustomed to at other craft producers.”

The bill would also increase the production limit for a microdistillery license to 100,000 proof gallons per year. The Minnesota Distillers Guild notes that the current production limit of 40,000 gallons is the 11th lowest in the nation. (Microdistilleries must remain under the production limit in order to operate a cocktail room.)

“Our businesses are being hurt, driven out of the state, and held back from real growth by the production cap,” said Tattersall’s Jon Kreidler in the same release. “We just want a fairer marketplace that allows for our businesses to grow and compete with out-of-state and national brands.”

The bipartisan bill is authored in the Senate by Sens. John Jasinski (R-Faribault), Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis), Karin Housley (R-Stillwater), and Scott M. Jensen (R-Chaska). It has been referred to the Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee.

Its companion bill, H.F. 3246, was introduced to the House in February and will receive a hearing in the Commerce Committee on Friday, March 13.

 
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John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.