Basement brewing bill passes House

The bill would repeal an earlier law prohibiting the manufacture or bottling of beverages in basements.

Katherine Lymn

Cheers, Minnesotan brewers: The House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would allow brewing beverages commercially in the basements of buildings. The bill, authored by Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, would repeal an earlier law prohibiting the manufacture or bottling of beverages in basements. A constituentâÄôs complaint was the instigator of the bill, Greiling said. When trying to lease out a space, a potential tenant was told it was prohibited to brew even tea in the kitchen basement of the building. âÄúWhen a constituent whoâÄôs trying to do a business comes forward with some obsolete rule, then we should get rid of it,âÄù she said. Lobbyists speculated that the previous law was established during prohibition, when people illegally manufactured alcohol in basements, Greiling said. Now, she said, the law needs to catch up with the times. âÄúSomeoneâÄôs got a very modern basement, and theyâÄôre trying to manufacture tea for selling commercially and they ran up against this rule,âÄù Greiling said. She said the bill, which passed unanimously, will also make it easier for small businesses to make use of the space they have. Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association, estimated there are 1,500 commercial breweries in the United States. âÄú[Brewing] is actually a longstanding part of American tradition,âÄù Glass said. âÄúThe pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock âÄî one of the first things they did was set up a brewery.âÄù It is already legal for home brewers to brew beer for personal use. However, Greiling said, when it comes to manufacturing and distributing beverages, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture wants to regulate the sanitation and cleanliness of the space. The MDA would dispatch someone to inspect the space and then issue a permit for manufacturing beverages if the space is deemed appropriate, Greiling said. Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery Manager Jennifer Kotas said the new law will likely have little effect on breweries themselves. âÄúNo brewery that I know of would be brewing in the basement,âÄù she said. âÄúBrewers tend to be proud of their craft.âÄù At Rock Bottom Brewery, for example, it is part of the dining experience. The milling room is located in the basement, but that doesnâÄôt count as brewing, as the rest of the process is done on the main level. âÄúPart of our concept is kind of showing off the fact that we make beer, so we never wanted to hide it,âÄù Kotas said. If the bill passes the remaining hurdles âÄî which Greiling said is likely, as there are no opponents âÄî it will go into effect immediately.