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You can take home later from local brewers

06-27 Seitz en.jpg
Tours are generally held monthly at Kinney Creek Brewery in Rochester. Owner/brewmaster Donovan Seitz, of Byron, conducts a tour Sat., June 27.
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The last call for packaged alcohol in Rochester has moved from the 8 p.m. weeknight standard to match the state of Minnesota's 10 p.m. allowance, but consumers should not look to their local liquor store for sales later in the evening.

A Rochester City Council decision Wednesday night allowed local beer brewers to provide off-sale liquor — including growlers and other takeaway products — from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day.

Rochester's new hours align the city with the state of Minnesota's permitted hours for liquor sales Mondays through Saturdays. Rochester implemented a local law for Sunday growler sales and the council chose to extend those hours, too.

The council had considered changing the city ordinance governing off-sale liquor hours to include full-service liquor stores, but liquor store operators spoke out against the change.

"One of my big concerns is safety, for my employees and for patrons," said Ari Kolas, of Apollo Liquors in Rochester. "We have smaller stores that only have one employee working. The longer we stay open, the more issues we have. … I don't think there's any need for that."

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Kolas had spoken with other owners of liquor stores and their employees, and none of those he spoke to was in favor of the change, Kolas said.

Seeking a middle ground, the council instead made an amendment to two specific liquor licenses, for small brewers and brewpubs, to allow for expanded business hours.

Two local brewery owners attended the meeting and spoke in favor of the decision. Donovan Seitz, owner of Kinney Creek Brewery , and Brandon Schulz, owner of LTS Brewing Co ., both said local limits on off-sale liquor hours had hampered their businesses.

"We actually close earlier than we would if we had later liquor store hours," Seitz told the Post-Bulletin.

"I think it would be a really good thing for my business to be able to stop turning away people who are in my taproom past the hour of 8 p.m. during the week who want to fill a growler, and they can't," Schulz said.

While brewers and liquor stores might be different, city law had them playing by the same rules.

"The reality is, yes, we can't sell hard liquor and we can't sell wine — but we can sell beer, and we're regulated by the same rules," Schulz said.

The council took action to amend two license types — small brewery off-sale and brewpub off-sale — to allow for hours of sale outside of the city's standard hours.

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The council also took a first reading of the ordinance change and agreed to waive rules for a second hearing, making the change effective immediately.

Liquor stores will stay on the same hours: Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"It just shows there are other alternatives," said Council Member Mark Bilderback. "Instead of running out to a liquor store, we do have the opportunity to go to a taproom, get something local and help support the local businesses."

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