Great article from Tom Scheck at MPR, A Brew Ha Ha over proposed brewery?
Update: Here’s a response from Frank Ball, with the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association:
It’s pretty simple within the parameters of the three-tier structure we have in Minnesota. The manufactures make the product, the wholesalers distribute the product and we, the retailers, sell the product to the consumer. It’s even more simple if you say it the way my retailers say it: “you make it, we’ll sell it”…you make it ‘and’ sell it, we won’t buy from you”.The reason for the three-tier structure was to keep the integrity of the distribution of a controlled, highly regulated, commodity. Alcohol — like prescription drugs or firearms — is no ordinary commodity. In fact, alcoholic beverages are the only commercial products specifically named in the United States Constitution. Because our society recognizes the importance of controlling alcohol use and access, alcohol has always been treated differently under the law than most other products.
The manufacturers (breweries, vineyards and distilleries) supply distributors. Under the laws which created the three-tier system, each level of the system is independent of the others, ensuring accountability to the public as well as the benefits of healthy competition. By preventing tied houses (i.e. Retailers that sell the products of only one supplier), the three-tier system limits the number of retail outlets and therefore promotes moderate consumption, hence our position with the Surly matter. We want the Surly product to sell in our stores, we don’t want the manufacturer of a great beer to sell to the public, we’ll do that enthusiastically as possible.
Personally, I see “you make it, we’ll sell it”…you make it ‘and’ sell it, we won’t buy from you”. as unfortunate. Certainly these retailers don’t need Surly to stay afloat, though I wonder whether you’d actually see an all-out boycot of Surly products by MLBA retailers should the law get changed. Would you dump a product that sells well & that your customers ask for? “You don’t sell it, I can’t buy it from you… I’ll have to go somewhere else.”