Town Hall Brewery fights to get its beer in stores

Categories: Beer, News
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Town Hall Brewery: fighting the good fight
The Surly bill that passed last year, helped to substantially increase sales opportunities for Minnesota brewers by making it legal for them to sell pints of their beer in onsite taprooms, like the one recently opened at Fulton Brewery. But unfortunately, the law doesn't do anything to help brewpubs who are trying to get a third party to sell their product, which is precisely what Town Hall Brewery owner, Pete Rifakes, is looking to do, reports Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal.

The demand is absolutely there. Fans of Town Hall's award-winning beer can already fill up growlers of their favorite Masala Mama IPA or West Bank Pale Ale at the bar and restaurant, and when they announced recently that they would sell a limited amount of one of their barrel-aged beers, customers started lining up as early as 8 a.m. Town Hall sold out of that beer within an hour and a half of opening. Think those beer drinkers would like to be able to pick up a six pack of it at Zipp's or Four Firkins? Well, too bad.
Current Minnesota legislation prevents brewpubs from being able to have their beer sold in local liquor stores or poured in restaurants or bars not owned by that brewpub. Historically, fighting to amend Minnesota liquor laws has always proved to be a long road, but Rifakes has enlisted local lobbyists Fredrikson and Byron to help him navigate options, and it seems that a push to change the legislation is likely.

Town Hall wouldn't be the only Minnesota brewpub whose customers would benefit from a change in legislation. The Herkimer, Fitger's in Duluth, Barley John's, and Great Waters are among the others who could have their brews available in stores if the effort from Rifakes and his team prove successful.

Location Info

Town Hall Tap

4810 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

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Liker of good beer
Liker of good beer

Hope this moves forward, but that said... can someone from Town Hall teach the folks at Herkimer how to make beer... please!!!

Todd A.
Todd A.

Surly and Fulton are brewerys, not brewpubs. Incorrectly calling them brewpubs makes this story confusing.


What was the historic purpose of thins restriction to begin with? Was there an actual public benefit (even if archaic moral issues like most so-called "blue laws") or was this simply a ploy by larger brewers to reduce competition? None of those arguments sound like they hold water (or beer).


I think that got mistakenly changed when it was edited. I changed it back. Thanks for pointing it out. - E. Weiss

The goal of the three-tier system was to separate retailers and brewers, the latter of which was said to have a tremendous amount of control over retailers before prohibition. You'll see phrases like "tied houses" pop up from time to time.

Brewpubs are special in that they occupy two tiers albeit on a small scale. Town Hall, for example, produces the beer & can sell it both on sale in the pub and for off-sale consumption via growlers (which itself was quite a bit of work to pass a decade ago).

I think this is less about larger brewers reducing competition and more about organizations fighting to to keep the three-tier system intact. Changes at brewpubs are great examples of what opponents are against since the changes they propose are a deviation from the system.

That being said, some of our favorite out-of-state beers come out of states that allow brewpubs to package and sell their beer to distributors. Stone, Goose Island, Deschutes, Dogfish Head, etc. are just a few examples.

Personally, I think the time has come to allow brewpubs to sell their beer to distributors in Minnesota, perhaps with some compromise. This law was close to being passed in the not-so-distant past (2005-2006-ish). I think its time has come.


Thanks for the detailed reply. Fascinating stuff. I moved here about a decade ago so this stuff is still a little new to me.

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