Signed Liquor Law Paves Way for $20M Surly Brewery

Governor Mark Dayton signed the "Surly bill" into law, creating a brewer taproom license that allows the state's beer makers to sell their beer at their breweries.

On Tuesday-the same day that Governor Mark Dayton vetoed Republican-supported budget bills-the governor signed an omnibus liquor bill that will allow Minnesota brewers to sell pints of their beer from their breweries.

The bill, which earlier this month passed the Senate unanimously and passed the House with broad, bipartisan support, paves the way for Brooklyn Center-based Surly Brewing Company to build its proposed $20 million “destination brewery”-which would include a restaurant, beer garden, bar, rooftop terrace, and event center.

The new law creates a new type of liquor license called a brewer taproom license. It allows brewers that produce fewer than 250,000 barrels annually to sell pints of their beer on-site.

Under the previous law, small beer producers could get brewpub licenses, allowing them to sell their beer at their own restaurants. Larger brewers like St. Paul-based Summit Brewing and Surly-which has steadily increased its brewing capacity since opening in 2006-were prohibited from selling beer at their breweries.

Surly founder and President Omar Ansari told Twin Cities Business earlier this month that the company has put all of its efforts into getting the bill passed, and it will now focus on the new brewery and event center. “If we have this thing open in a couple years I'd be thrilled, but there's a lot to accomplish,” he said.

According to Surly, its new brewery will produce up to 100,000 barrels of beer each year, and it will create 85 construction jobs and 150 full-time jobs.

Ansari also said that the Surly bill will benefit other breweries in the state. For example, Stillwater-based Lift Bridge and Fulton Beer-which has plans to open a brewery in downtown Minneapolis, near Target Field-will be allowed to sell pints of their own beer on-site.

A press release from Dayton's office said that the omnibus liquor bill also allows for on-sale licenses at racing tracks, temporary licenses for farm wineries to sell at county fairs, and liquor licenses for private nonprofit colleges. It also includes provisions regarding the sale of beer at bed and breakfast establishments, and some other changes specific to individual municipalities.