Fulton Brewery Opening Pushed Back to Oct. or Nov.

The Minneapolis brewery is ready for production, but the co-owners must obtain the necessary federal, state, and local licenses before they begin operations.

Fulton Beer-which announced in March that it aimed to open its Minneapolis brewery in September-likely won't have its new facility up and running until the latter part of October at the earliest.

“[A]s much as we'd love to be slinging growlers in early September (OK, right now), it looks like the stars will have to align for it to even happen before October is done,” Fulton said in a Monday blog post. “Not to worry though-we're planning to be here for a long time, so it'll be worth the wait.”

Co-owner Jim Diley told Twin Cities Business on Tuesday morning that obtaining the necessary licenses could actually take until mid-November.

Fulton began leasing space for its 6,000-square-foot brewery-located in the Warehouse District-almost a year ago. The interior was demolished earlier this year, and equipment was installed over the summer.

The brewery itself is ready for beer production, but Fulton's co-owners-who started brewing beer in one of their garages-can't move forward until they get the necessary approval from federal, state, and local entities.

In mid-May, the company applied for its “brewer's notice” from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the federal agency that regulates alcohol manufacturers, according to Diley. But amid the explosion of craft beer and the alcohol industry's rapid growth, the agency is backlogged, and Fulton is still waiting on the document, which will permit it to manufacture beer at its new brewery.

Diley hopes to have the notice in hand by mid-September, at which point Fulton can apply to receive its Minnesota manufacturer's license-a process that could take another few weeks. After that, the brewery must get licenses from the City of Minneapolis that allow it to sell pints and growlers on-site.

“We truly are just waiting for licenses,” Diley said. “Otherwise, it would be full steam ahead.”

Once licensed, Fulton will be able to sell pints at its brewery thanks to a recently enacted Minnesota law that created a new type of liquor license called a taproom license; it allows brewers that produce fewer than 250,000 barrels annually to sell pints of their beer on-site-and the Minneapolis City Council on Friday voted to create a new license that supports the law change. (Each municipality can decide whether to create a taproom license for breweries located within its limits.)

Commercial packaging breweries like Fulton-those that produce beer to be distributed to bars and restaurants-didn't used to be able to sell beer on the brewery premises, with one exception: Growlers could be sold on site if a brewery produced less than 3,500 barrels annually. But some breweries, including Fulton and Brooklyn Center-based Surly Brewing Company, wanted to be able to sell beer commercially and on the premises regardless of the amount of beer they brewed.

Fulton passed a Minnesota Department of Agriculture inspection last week and recently received its certificate of occupancy from the City of Minneapolis.

For the past couple of years, Fulton has been contract brewing draft beer at The Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Last year, it produced just over 1,200 barrels-and those barrels were distributed to Twin Cities-area restaurants and bars. The four business partners plan to move all of that draft brewing to the new location and aim to make close to 3,200 barrels within their first year there.

Fulton produces The Lonely Blonde (an American blonde ale), Sweet Child of Vine (an India Pale Ale), The Worthy Adversary (a Russian imperial stout), and The Libertine (an imperial red ale).

To read more about the brewery's progress and see photos on Fulton's blog, click here.