Coming soon: Sunday growler sales

Rochester's bustling craft beer business soon could be sending customers home with off-sale beer on Sundays.

The Rochester City Council is expected to take up an ordinance amendment at its next meeting, May 18, for discussion and possible approval. The ordinance amendment would bring the city's liquor laws into harmony with the state, which recently made Sunday growler sales legal.

Growlers, 64-ounce glass containers filled from brewery and brewpub taps, are an important part of business, local brewers said.

"This is the best way for us to get our beer out there – it's the only way," said Steve Finnie, brewer at Grand Rounds Brewpub .

"We are a brewpub, which means we brew all of our beer on premises, and we have a full restaurant," Finnie said. "The only way to actually take beer out of here is via a growler. … That's the way the law is written for a brewpub."


After state legislation passed May 1, Finnie contacted Rochester City Clerk Aaron Reeves to prompt city action. Under the new legislation, local governments must approve the change before brewers can start selling growlers on Sundays.

"As soon as the law changed, the brewers wanted it updated," Reeves said.

At a committee of the whole meeting Monday, the council directed Reeves and staff to draw up a request for council action for the ordinance amendment.

The council seemed intent to keep the measure moving, Reeves said, and possibly could waive a second reading of the ordinance to speed the process along.

Council President Randy Staver said in the case of law changes passed down by the state for local government decision, the Rochester council considers each case on its own merits – sometimes following the state's lead and sometimes not.

"By and large, we look at what's most beneficial to our community," Staver said. "We tend to take action based on what we hear and see happening in our community and act accordingly."

Council member Nick Campion said he anticipated supporting the amendment based on its economic benefits to local businesses.

"I think it's a positive thing for our local economy," he said.


The change could be an important step for emerging players in craft brewing, such as Rochester microbrewer Life's Too Short Brewing Company . Owners Brandon Schulz and Jeff Werning are a few months from opening a taproom and plan to sell growlers as the only off-sale of their beer.

"This is a good step in the right direction, and I think it'll really help our business," Schulz said.

Finnie agreed – getting beer into the hands of more customers in more environments is important.

"It would be (important) to our business and to any other brewpub or taproom in the state, I think," he said. "It's off-sale, so it's the ability for someone to take your product and take it home, drink in the comfort of their home and share with friends. It's just another vehicle for someone to enjoy your beer, your product."

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