News & Updates

MLBA: Make Up Your Mind

According to this Star Tribune Piece by Paul Levy, Frank Ball and the MLBA seem to have changed their minds:

But Wednesday, he adopted his stance of a week ago, when he said: “We’re not talking about tires, batteries or accessories. This is alcohol, and it’s highly regulated. There’s a reason this law has been on the books since 1933.”

Deep pockets?

Couple that with some of the misinformation I’ve heard in the past week or so and I think it’s fair to share a few friendly reminders…

Things to consider:

The bill doesn’t allow breweries to sell cans, bottles growlers or beer to go at the brewery. Just beer for consumption on-site.

This bill has nothing to do with Sunday sales.

This bill has nothing to do with wine/strong beer in grocery stores.

With regard to Surly, their increased capacity will force them into the three-tier system, likely within the next year.

Increased capacity means more beer for for bars & liquor stores to sell.

All around the country similar projects exist and local retailers and bars are still selling beer. For reference, look to well-known examples such as Stone Brewing, Goose Island, Deschutes, Red Hook, Dogfish Head and so many others.

As consumers, we’ll still buy bottles and cans of Surly from your liquor stores and pints and pitchers from your bars.

Choosing to stop selling Surly at your bar or liquor store in light of this legislation is silly. Take a look at the rest of your selection and see how many of breweries already do what Surly has proposed. You’ll likely be surprised. supports this legislation. If you’re a brewery, distributor or restaurant/bar that supports the legislation, we’d love to hear it. On the same note, if you don’t, please drop me a line (ryan AT and let me know why. I’m not interested in calling anyone out, I’m just trying to gauge actual opposition & understand where you’re coming from. Thus far, despite requests, no one has stepped forward  in opposition.  Other than a “Friend of a friend of a friend” story or two, I’m not hearing much.


  1. Chad says:

    “This is alcohol, and it’s highly regulated”

    Oh, bullshit. If it’s so “highly regulated”, explain Four Loko, Mr. Ball. It’s not that it’s highly regulated, it’s because you think this law change will hurt other people that give you money. Lots and lots of money.

  2. Tucker says:

    Do all the people that Mr. Ball represents really support what he is doing/saying? Is there anyone else (stores, restaurants, bars) that are openly standing behind him? Anyone have a list of these supporters? I have seen bars and stores standing behind Omar and Surly. I agree with your points above and to me all of this seems rather silly and kind of a waste of time and money for everyone on both sides. Let Omar sell the beer he brews and in turn he will sell more beers to restaurants, bars and stores using the Three Tier System.

    Hell at Stone you can buy Growlers and he isn’t even trying to do that, although I am sure a few of us wish he would!


  3. Champs says:

    What’s wrong with Sunday liquor again?

  4. Jono says:

    Tucker, you’re right- no stores or bars have spoken out against the proposal, in any forum or editorial I’ve seen.

    I would like to hear what they have to say, because I can’t understand why they’d be against it. I have no interest in personal attacks on anyone, I just want to see someone stand up, identify themselves, and make their case against it.

    The statements so far are a bunch of rhetoric, and lots of DERP about three tier system. I think the stores/bars that are against it, are only against it because they don’t understand the proposal because of bad information from their lobbying group.

    I’ve heard credible rumors about bars dropping Surly. No specifics though. I have a hard time believing that bars/stores that actually KNOW anything about craft beer would react in such a way. If I’m wrong I’d like to know who is throwing the hissy fits and dropping Surly, so I can avoid giving them my business.

  5. Tucker says:

    Champs, I have no idea what is wrong with Sunday liquor. Every time my brother and sister-in-law invite us for Sunday dinner we have the same phone conversation. My sister-in-law says can you bring some beer to which I reply they don’t sell beer on Sunday’s to which we both say that dammit and then something about how stupid that is. Sunday is a day of rest but it is also a day for Football, various other sports and family gathering where a little wine or beer is very appropriate. Planning ahead is not something all of us do well and unless you like a Sunday drive to Hudson (very enjoyable I hear) Sunday sales in MN would be great. That being said I imagine there are a lot of store owners that enjoy their day off, I can appreciate that. Many of us get two days off a week, shouldn’t liquor stores get one! I have heard the argument that stores feel the same sales would be spread over seven days instead of six so overhead would be more and as a result they would be losing money by adding a day. Not sure I buy this argument.


  6. dbrewing says:

    I support Surly.

  7. dbrewing says:

    People are afraid of being blackballed or boycotted. At some point, if you are a free human, you have to stand up for whats right.

  8. Erik says:

    I’m so tired of the “Sunday off” for liquor stores reasoning. If it were valid, there wouldn’y be ANY retailers open on Sunday!

  9. Mark says:

    The “Sunday off” argument is bogus. If a liquor store owner wants to keep their current operating hours, they can do so. But at least then it would be the owners’ choice rather than some ridiculous outdated law.

    Getting back to the point at hand, I’ve seen several bars in my neighborhood host events to support Surly’s proposal, including one that drew our mayor. If you’re on Facebook, here’s a group trying to organize support that you may want to join:

  10. Mag says:

    What’s kind of challenging about this is the strong opposition of the distributors is hard to combat financially by consumers. I mean, they view this as a threat to their business as a middle-man, so they are going to do what they can to oppose it. As consumers, one of the few ways we can financially make a meaningful statement with the distributors is to boycott the products they distribute. The problem with that tool is that it will likely harm the retail outlets and bars from whom we purchase the distributed products as well as the producers, so you may end up with a pyrrhic victory. So, the middle-men are protected by this and can be bullies. The real, direct pressure for the distributors, financially speaking, can only come from the producers and the retailers. Thus we turn to legislation to solve the problem. Here again the distributors are well entrenched due to legacy and financial wherewithal. Now the question is will constituency matter to legislators or special interest/lobbying? Constant pressure by the consumers on the legislators is the key.

  11. Mag says:

    Or maybe angry mobs with torches. That’s fun too.

  12. dbrewing says:

    How to get around Sunday sales retrictions,
    1, Next time you see a case of beer you like on sale buy it.
    2, Place beer in basement, pantry, closet, etc.
    3, Ignore existence of said beer Monday-Saturday.
    4, Drink from Sunday case as needed on Sunday.
    5, When case contains fewer than eight beers, buy new case.
    6, It also might be helpful to have a bottle of scotch for Sundays as well.

    That said I support Sunday sales. I just find the law so easy to circumvent that
    I don’t prioritize it’s repeal very highly. How many places still have eight o’clock closing Mon.-Thurs.. I encountered this in Rochester recently.

  13. Nick says:

    My understanding is MLBA doesn’t have lots of money, they have vocal members (liquor store owners). We have to become even more vocal so our voices can compete. Best thing you can do is send a self-written letter to your representatives, and call as well.

    Reason opposing liq store owners/others are not piping up is they don’t want to come off as anti-consumer (i.e. their customers). So they hide behind the MLBA to do their fighting for them.

    Liquor store owners complain that their sales would be spread over 7 days, but so would some of their overhead costs. If you want to be closed one day, try MONDAY, silly. Hey owners: your customers like drinking on Sunday. Sell us booze! Close on Monday? who cares (sorry service industry)!

  14. ryan says:

    I tend to agree on the Sunday thing, though let’s keep this thread on the brewery on-sale subject. Some of the misinformation I’m hearing has been people thinking that these two pieces of legislation are tied together. My gut feeling is that the brewery on-sale legislation has a better chance of passing.

  15. Mike says:


    You have no clue what you are talking about. You obviously have no industry knowledge. Do you know what would happen if you boycotted all the beers that distributors have? 99% of the beer you see in a store is from a distributor. The face of most of the breweries you see are distributors. I love how everyone is an expert in this industry based on what they know about craft beer ratings, or what they read on Ba or other sites.

  16. Paul says:

    Williams Uptown quit selling Surly because the state adapted the pint law.

    I’ve been going there for 10 years, but will no longer be giving them my business.

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