Despite the rain, Surly Brewing Co. fans came out in droves to the "Power of the Pint" event in Brooklyn Center, a celebration of the passage of the Surly bill.
Scattered throughout the brewery and tented outdoor bar were bright red lawn signs that read "Linda Scheid for State Senate." They were hung out of respect for one of the bill's most important allies, a champion who didn't live to see the victory.[jump]
Scheid first entered state politics as a House representative in 1976, then took a seat in the Senate representing Brooklyn Park. Consumer protection issues were dear to her, as was battling antiquated liquor laws. One issue she pushed was wine sales in grocery stores.
So she was a natural ally when Surly Brewing Co. owner Omar Ansari came knocking. He wanted to grow his brewery by adding a $20 million second location, complete with a restaurant and beer garden. Trouble was, he wanted to be able to sell pints of his own beer, which went against Minnesota's three-tier liquor system. He was already facing opposition from liquor wholesalers and distributors, but Scheid was happy to author what became known as the Surly bill.
"They knew I was up to the battle," she said at the time.
Although the idea drummed up lots of grassroots support from beer fans, Ansari says it was Scheid's assistance getting authors that drove the bill forward. She was also instrumental in getting opponents of the bill like the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association to the table to hammer out a compromise.
"We had a meeting with all of the interested parties near the end," recalled Ansari. "Basically Linda sat down and said, 'Well here's how its going to be,' and that's how it was. And Linda made this happen."
Once everyone was satisfied, the final language of the Surly bill was wrapped into an omnibus liquor bill and passed easily. Gov. Mark Dayton signed it into law in May.
While Scheid was publicly battling for Surly, privately she was losing a battle against ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed in 2005, and had been undergoing treatment for some time. In early May, she shared news that she was no longer responding to the chemotherapy and decided to stop. She entered hospice care and died on June 15, a day shy of her 69th birthday.
Her son Scott Scheid was at Power of the Pint to speak on her behalf.
"It was really emotional walking in and seeing mom's lawn signs," he said. "She would have loved to have been here."
After Scott Scheid's remarks, Ansari took the stage one last time.
"I think we all should raise a glass to say thank you to Senator Linda Scheid for her years of service to Minnesota, what she has done and what she represents," he said. "To Linda."
Check out more of the speeches and party below:
- Surly bill is now law
- Minnesota Beer Activists fight for your drinking rights
- Surly's $20 million destination brewery: A first look