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Give Schell’s an even break

The Minnesota Legislature has a lot on its mind these days trying to pass a budget for the next couple of years. It may not have beer sales high on its priority list, but it should be careful about putting the state’s oldest brewery at a competitive disadvantage.

The issue is growler sales. Growlers are containers holding up to 64 ounces of beer that are popular items at mini breweries and brew pubs. People visiting the breweries like to take some home and buy a growler or two.

The state controls the sale of these containers closely, some throwback to prohibition, we suppose. It allows small breweries to sell them in order to boost their business and establish themselves. Bigger breweries, and Schell’s is the biggest brewer in the state by volume, are not allowed to sell growlers because it might hurt liquor store sales. Right.

The state is considering raising the production cap on growler sales from 20,000 barrels to 65,000 barrels. That would be great for most of the other breweries in the state, but put Schell’s, with 100,000 barrels of production a year, at a unique disadvantage.

We think the state should limit its administration of this kind of business. Schell’s draws large crowds to its historic brewery, and has just opened a new taproom to serve the public, and it should be able to provide the same service that other breweries offer their customers.

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