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New liquor law allows Alexandria breweries to sell to-go cans of products

Copper Trail Brewing currently cans its craft beers, while 22 Northmen has plans to do so in the future.

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Because of a new liquor law, patrons of Copper Trail Brewing Company in Alexandria can purchase 16-ounce cans of beer at the brewery and not just at the liquor store.
Samantha Graf / Contributed photo
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ALEXANDRIA — Local brewery owners are excited about a new bill recently signed that allows them more options for selling their beer on site.

What is known as the “Free the Growler” bill was signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday, May 22. It increases a production cap from 20,000 to 150,000 barrels so the state's largest breweries can sell 64-ounce growlers on site and still operate a taproom.

The proposal would let the state's biggest breweries sell growlers from their taprooms and allow smaller breweries to sell four and six-packs of beer.

In addition, the law gives smaller breweries in Minnesota — like Copper Trail Brewing Company and 22 Northmen Brewing Company in Alexandria — more options for selling their products to those who want to take them to-go.

Although there are some limitations, it does allow the smaller breweries to sell to-go products like standard-size bottles of liquor and four and six packs of 12-ounce or 16-ounce cans of beer and hard seltzers.

“We are extremely excited that the bill finally passed,” said Adam Graf, who owns Copper Trail with Dave Gibbons. “It has been a long road and a lot of hard work, but it has finally paid off. For us, we will be able to start selling beer in 16-ounce cans as another off-sale option for the consumer.”

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Owners of Copper Trail Brewing Company, Dave Gibbons (left) and Adam Graf, stand in their brewery on Broadway Street in downtown Alexandria.
Contributed

This is something that every state in the country has been able to do for years now, Graf said, adding that 16-ounce cans are a better vessel size than a 750-milliliter crowler and it has a longer shelf life due to the way they are filled. He said it just makes sense as it is the same beer.

Tyler Bredeson, who owns 22 Northmen with his wife, Michelle Bredeson, said they are very excited about the new liquor bill.

“Yes, there are limitations, but compromises are always a reality in new legislation,” he said. “Overall, this is going to be an incredibly welcome change for Minnesota breweries and their customers. Small breweries will find the additional cash flow especially helpful as they begin to look at larger distribution and the equipment necessary for expansion.”

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Tyler Bredeson

Unlike Copper Trail, which cans and distributes their products to liquor stores locally and around the state, 22 Northmen currently does not. Bredeson said for them, the new bill won’t change their products in the short term.

“We are first and foremost concerned with producing a quality product that adheres to our standards. We would love to offer our beer in cans, but we are going to take our time,” Bredeson said. “We will likely have them available in the future but when we do we want our customers to be absolutely certain they are of the highest quality.”

Graf noted that the bill didn’t pass without some challenges.

He said there were a lot of proponents against the bill who argued that allowing breweries to sell their products in cans would hurt other retail shops. However, he said it will actually allow many breweries to expand into the market and grow the craft beer scene around the state, which in turn will benefit retail shops.

“We will be able to put many more varieties into 16-ounce cans now, so you’ll be able to see those brands on liquor store shelves too! It’s going to be great for everyone,” said Graf. “It’s going to be exciting to continue to grow our brand as a brewery in Minnesota with the laws finally getting brought up to date.”

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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