Saturday, January 21, 2012

Free the Beer!

Harriet Brewing tasting room from Beer Trip Crew
Some recent changes in Minnesota beer laws is leading to some nice effects.   The passing last May of the so called "Surly Bill" and Surly's plans for their own destination brewery has opened up the industry to truly innovate.  An article in Thursday Star Tribune that says Harriet Brewing is on the path to being approved to serve pints in their downtown Minneapolis location.  While the committee vote in only an initial hurdle, I see it as a good sign for our future drinking choices.  Hopefully, the planned vote next Friday goes through for them.

But, that reminded me of another recent article I read about Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery.  Owner Pete Rifakes wants to "aggressively" distribute THB beer.  It has to be frustrating for Pete to be contacted monthly from distributors who want to sell his product, and his hands are tied by short-sighted Minnesota laws.  While I'm happy for Surly, Harriet and others that will probably be following suit, Town Hall and other brewpubs that want to distribute should be allowed to do so. The only fair situation would be to give every brewer equal rights to sell locally and further afield, and food or not food as they are able.  While I'm not a raging capitalist, these laws seem to be more related to puritanical restrictions rather than the real concerns of selling beer.
Downstairs taps at Town Hall Brewery.  To drink
from these taps, sign up for the monthly tour. 

And, secretly, the thought of Masala Mama going regional or national, and the rest of the world being able to drink "our" beer gave me a sense of pride. I know--I'm just a pint club member, and a semi-regular.  But, in my last discussion with brewer Mike Hoops, I was telling him of a summer beer trip that was a series of mediocre brewpubs and that it just made me appreciate Town Hall all the more.  It doesn't take too many brewpub visits to realize that we have it pretty good in Minnesota, and, hopefully, when the stars and laws align, it will get even better.

If you want to read a history of how we got into this situation, a nice book is The Prohibition Hangover by Garrett Peck.  It gives a relatively coherent history of prohibition and its aftermath before ending with a more personal analysis of how American needs to get to a better relationship with alcohol.

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