Cheers to Surly Brewery

Minnesota should tweak its laws to allow Surly’s project to move forward.

Daily Editorial Board

Amid the contentious debate in the state Capitol over MinnesotaâÄôs $5 billion budget shortfall comes one of the few bills that will bolster both jobs and revenue: the so-called “Surly Bill.”

Surly Brewing Co. estimates that it would create 85 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs if it were given the go-ahead to build a new $20 million, 60,000 square foot restaurant, beer garden and event center in Minnesota. This would greatly add to the stateâÄôs gradual economic rebound.

Naysayers claim the plan would topple the stateâÄôs three-tiered system that separates breweries from distributors and retailers âÄî an arcane structure that was first set in place at the end of Prohibition.

But the Surly restaurant and beer garden would seat about 250 of MinnesotaâÄôs more than 5 million residents. There will still be plenty of people to patronize liquor stores for their Surly fix. Distributors and retailers can rest easy that the new restaurant will not significantly cut into their revenue.

The founder of Surly, Omar Ansari, has said that he would be willing âÄî though reluctant âÄî to move his brewery to Wisconsin, where the laws are more lenient. As a general principle, Minnesota should not make a habit of letting corporations hold it hostage by threatening to move. However, all that this project requires is that Minnesota make a common-sense tweak to an outdated law to prevent a source of jobs and tax revenue from leaving the state.

As this bill moves to the floor of the state Senate, we ask lawmakers to look at the vast benefits this project would produce. A slight tweak in the law would help to get MinnesotaâÄôs economy back on its feet. We can drink to that.