Eight months after opening, 3rd Act Craft Brewery owners Deb and Steve Long estimate growlers and crowlers make up about 10 percent of their sales. But the take-home method of beer drinking wasn’t a hit right away.
3rd Act, Woodbury’s first and (so far) only brewery, opened in November 2018. Sales of growlers and crowlers, reusable half-gallon jugs and 32-ounce cans respectively, started picking up in January, which Deb Long attributes to holiday season gifting and neighborly generosity.
“A lot of people came in during the winter and they gave ‘em away to people that helped them snow plow their driveways,” she said.
At least one Minnesota brewery, however, will no longer be able to sell growlers after Oct. 1 because of a state law that bans breweries surpassing annual production of 20,000 barrels of beer from selling products for off-site consumption. The law means Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors, Minn., won’t have access to a product that makes up 30 percent of its sales.
The North Shore brewery first sold its beer exclusively in growlers, adding a personal twist of the knife to any financial impact.
Other breweries approaching the 20,000 threshold include Bent Paddle Brewing Co. in Duluth, Lift Bridge Brewing Co. in Stillwater and Indeed Brewing Co. in Minneapolis, said Lauren Bennett McGinty, executive director of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild.
As for 3rd Act, Long doesn’t think the growler cap law will affect them anytime soon.
“The way that we’re actually structured … there’s not going to be any impact on us at this time,” Long said. “Even foreseeable future I don’t see us (being affected) unless we were to get into huge distribution.”
But the Longs aren’t just thinking about themselves in the context of the law.
“We hope that they change it because, you know, for our industry leaders that are with us, it’s just not right,” she said. “We find it unfair.”
Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, introduced an amendment to this year’s Omnibus Liquor Bill that would have raised the production cap to 40,000 barrels. But after opposition from some senators who support a "three-tier system of distribution" of producer, distributor and retailer, Sen. Housley withdrew the amendment.
“Next session, I will aggressively push for a change to this unnecessary law,” Sen. Housley told KSTP-TV earlier this month.
For the Longs, distribution isn’t totally out of the question, but it would be “in the late future.”
“It’s kind of a saturated market where we’re just going to keep ours as a taproom and people that want crowlers and growlers come running into 3rd Act,” Deb Long said, adding the brewery has just been getting “busier and busier.”
Forum News Service contributed to this story.