The Rock Bottom Brewery, 9th Street and Hennepin Avenue, got the go-ahead from a key City Council Committee to sell "growlers" -- 64-ounce jugs of its microbrew beer to go.
A recent state law change allows cities to issue off-sale permits to microbreweries to sell beer made on-site. It limits those sales to growlers. The Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee approved Rock Bottom's license July 16, and it goes to the full Council Friday, July 25.
The city has three eligible microbreweries: Rock Bottom; Town Hall Brewery, 1430 Washington Ave. S., which also got committee approval to sell growlers; and Herkimer, 2922 Lyndale Ave. S., which has not applied.
City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) raised questions of fairness.
"Basically, Rock Bottom Brewery is going to be able sell something that no one else can because they brew on site," she said. "Directly across the street there is a bar. There is a bar next door. There is a bar on either side. They will not be able to sell off-sale."
David Soos, general manager of Rock Bottom, said the beer other bars want to sell is still available in most liquor stores, but Rock Bottom's beers are not.
Brian MacKenzie of MacKenzie: An American Bar, 918 Hennepin Ave., said he used to sell a six-pack to go, but the city took away that option several years ago. "To me, it looks like they are able to sell and I am not able to sell. It seems like it is unfair."
Most on-sale liquor establishments can sell six-packs of 3.2 beer simply by checking a box on their liquor license application, said Ken Ziegler, city liquor license inspector. The City Council banned such sales in the Downtown core, concerned that the bottles could be used as weapons.
Councilmember Paul Zerby (2nd Ward) worried that growlers could encourage over-consumption -- that once the half-gallon container is opened, it "invites drinking the whole thing."
Soos said with the carbonation technique, the growlers were good for four days. The bottles will have a $1.50 deposit, and a refill would cost $6.95 he said. The brewery would voluntarily label the growlers "not to be consumed in public."