As Castle Danger halts growlers, petition support grows online

Castle Danger’s last day to sell growlers — the 64-ounce glass bottles that helped establish the company’s growth in Two Harbors. — is Monday. 

After that, the brewery will have to end its growler sales, which the company credits to about 30 percent of taproom sales.

Any Minnesota breweries that make more than 20,000 barrels of beer annually can’t sell growlers and crowlers from their taprooms.

Castle Danger surpassed the threshold production cap in 2018. 

An effort to change the law in February introduced by Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, would have allowed breweries that produce up to 250,000 barrels to sell growlers from their taproom. 

A similar measure was introduced in the House by Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL- Minneapolis. Both legislative efforts failed to move out of their respective committees.

But Housley has continued to push for the change in the law. She recently launched an online petition to Gov. Tim Walz to show support for removing the restriction on selling growlers from taprooms. As of 3 p.m. Monday, the petition had almost reached 11,000 signatures.

“Growler sales account for a big portion of some breweries’ revenues; the growler cap puts local breweries in an impossible position and unnecessarily affects those who enjoy their products,” Housley writes on her petition website.

While the restriction is directly affecting Castle Danger’s business on Tuesday, other well-known breweries in Minnesota are inching closer to the 20,000-barrel-a-year cap.

For Bent Paddle in Duluth, records show that the company has hovered around 15,000 barrels a year for a number of years. 

Laura Mullen, co-founder of Bent Paddle, told the Duluth News-Tribune that she hopes the laws will change in the future, since her company may hit the cap with a few years. 

Indeed Brewing Company has reached an annual production of more than 15,000 in just the last two years, according to state records. The company declined to comment publicly on the regulation.

Supporters of the cap say the growler cap helps to support the three-tier system for local beer: producers, distributors and retailers.

But some retailers, like Justin Blanford, sommelier and general manager of 99 Bottles in Moorhead, Minn., prefer to see less restrictions on breweries. 

“Personally I don’t have a problem with it.” Blanford said, comparing the experience of breweries and retail liquor stores like the difference between a restaurant and a grocery store.

“These small breweries are great for the local economy, and it’s good for the brewerey to offer a wide range of services,” he said.

Editor’s note: 99 Bottles is a financial supporter of Minnesota Public Radio.