Surly bill packaged in House omnibus liquor bill

Last night, the House Commerce Committee officially passed its version of an omnibus liquor bill package, and the Surly bill was front and center.

While the legislation allowing brewers to sell their own pints was initially controversial, it found lots of support from beer fans, and is now bound for a floor vote in both House and Senate.

When Surly Brewing Co. owner Omar Ansari initially launched his PR campaign to drum up support for the bill, he fretted that industry opposition would squash the measure before it even made it through committee. But the promise of a $20 million destination brewery, restaurant and beer garden proved compelling enough for legislators, who characterized it as a jobs bill and breezed it through this week.

Making sausage for beer.
Making sausage for beer.

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association initially indicated it would fight the bill on the grounds that it weakens the state's three tier liquor distribution system. Since then, they and other voices of opposition hashed out a compromise that lengthened the five-line law to limit holders of the so-called taproom license to making less than 250,000 barrels a year and only having one location.

Now, both the House and Senate omnibus liquor bills are nearly ready for a full vote. That could happen in the next couple of weeks. Each version contains several other pieces of booze-related legislation. Read the House version here and the Senate version here.

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