The Brewery Pint Law Change: We Need Your Help!

We're not the most political guys, but every now and again an issue at the Capitol grabs our attention. As many of you know, last month our distinguished neighbor from across town, Surly, announced their intention to build a new $20 million brewery, restaurant, and event center. That in itself is great news, but the rub is this: Minnesota law needs to change before that can happen, because right now, packaging brewers aren't allowed to sell pints from their breweries. We firmly believe that this law change, if enacted, will go down as one of the most important moments in Minnesota beer history. The cool part is, all of us can contribute to making this change happen. Here's how you can help:

1) Look up your State Representative and Senator.

2) Call each of them to voice your support. All you need to say is that you support SF 416 and HF 703. Reasons why: the bill will bring us more jobs, more tax revenue, and more tourism. You don't have to be negative or attack the opposition; just voice your support. If you have a moment, read below for more background.

3) Tell your friends to do the same. This means you, no matter how you communciate: all you emailers, phone callers, and Facebookers; texters, Tweeters, and face-to-face talkers; Letter writers, broadcasters, standers-on-street-corners and shout-from-mountaintoppers. It doesn't matter how you do it, it just matters that you do it. Get the message out there and multiply your effect.

The great thing is, if each legislator gets even a dozen calls in favor, it shows them how important this is to Minnesota citizens. And if you don't think your call makes a difference, think of this: there is a small but highly active group opposed to any sort of change in alcohol laws, and they are very good at calling their legislators. Don't let them drown us out.

Why the Brewery Pint Sale Legislation Matters

As the law currently stands, brewers in Minnesota must decide if they want to be either a packaging brewery (such as Surly, Summit, or our upcoming brewery) whose production must be sold for off-premise consumption; or a brewpub, whose production must be sold entirely on-premises. The legalese gets a little more complicated, but that’s the basic outline.

The proposed law change is simple: it would allow packaging breweries to apply for an on-premise license from their local municipality. In other words, Fulton would be allowed to sell you a pint of our own beer in our own brewery.

While this change may seem small, the implications are huge. Similar legislation in other states such as California, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin was passed years ago. The effect? Those states, despite being similar in size to Minnesota, have four times as many breweries as Minnesota. The primary reason is because even a small brewery is incredibly expensive to open, and the upstart brewery has to sell a substantial amount of beer just to break even. The ability to sell pints on premise lowers that barrier, helping the brewer get more sales at a higher margin in those crucial early years. The benefits are also important for larger, more established breweries. Nationally renowned brewers such as Stone have become destinations—something that could not happen without the ability to sell pints on premise. Cities  such as Portland, Denver, and San Diego have become popular for “beer tourism” thanks to their flourishing brewery/brewpub scene. It’s exciting to think about Minneapolis/St. Paul becoming a beer destination as well – and not just from a beer enthusiast’s standpoint. The growth of such an industry could bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue to our cities.

Seems easy, right? Not so, unfortunately. Certain groups lobby against any proposed changes in laws related to alcohol. Usually, it’s under the guise of “protecting the integrity of the 3-tier system.” The 3-tier system, for those not familiar, is the division between brewers, wholesalers/distributors, and retailers. Unfortunately, painting the proposed law change as an attack on the 3-tier system is a mischaracterization. SF 416 and HF 703 are not looking to expand a brewer’s ability to self-distribute, sell packaged beer (such as six-packs) from their brewery, or to own or operate retail locations outside of their own brewery. Other states have given brewers far more rights to sell and distribute than this bill would, and their 3-tier systems continue to thrive. We and other Minnesota breweries support the 3-tier system, and believe this bill will benefit distributors and retailers, by allowing small breweries to grow and produce more beer for them to distribute and sell. Over time, as more breweries open and grow and the Twin Cities earns national recognition as a beer destination, all 3 tiers benefit in greater and greater magnitude.

So again, we’ll ask: please call your State Senator and Representative. For less than five minutes of your time, you can become part of brewing history in Minnesota. Looking forward to sharing a beer with you – whether it’s purchased from the brewery, a bar, or a liquor store.

Thank You Pixel Farm!

In the two years since we founded Fulton, we've been fortunate to meet and work with many great people. Today we want to give a special shout out to Pixel Farm Digital, an agency in downtown Minneapolis. Our good friend Kate Stangl connected us with Pixel Farm, who was seeking a project to showcase their agency's creative prowess. We were ready to upgrade to a new website, but didn't have the barrel full of dollars that most agencies would have charged us. Lucky for us, the folks at Pixel Farm like beer almost as much as we do, so we set up a kegerator in their office, and started working on our new site.

We could go on and on about how talented the people at Pixel Farm are, but it's not really necessary -- the site speaks for itself. To say we are grateful and pleased with the results would be an understatement. Two years ago, we scraped together everything we had just to get our company up and running. We would have loved to start out with a state-of-the-art website, but we didn't have a marketing budget to do it with. We still don't have a marketing budget (and probably never will), but thanks to Pixel Farm, we have the website.

We also had a blast working with Pixel Farm and local photographer Robb Long on our beer posters. If you haven't already done so, check out the super cool "living poster" on the Lonely Blonde page. And stay tuned: all the beer bottle posters will be living posters soon. Robb Long is the same photographer behind the much complimented 'Garagery Photo' for the Southwest Journal that now appears on our home page.

So, please join us in raising a glass to Quan, Will, Adam, Tony, Sam, Matt and the entire team who made our dream website a reality. Thank you for believing in us enough to take us on despite our $0 budget, thank you for your hard work and creative expertise, and thank you for the posters, website, and tech support. We are looking forward to being your neighbor when our new brewery opens. Here's to many more beers together in the future.

One Rock Rally

The One Rock Rally was a great success - thank you to everyone who tromped (and rode!) through the snow to be there. Andy had over 100 riders beside him, and nearly as many came to spectate. The food by Tour De Farm & Corner Table's Scott Pampuch was amazing. The food theme and names were as great and creative as they tasted, including Bunny Balls, Curried Lamb with Rice Balls, Catxoup, and Pain Sauce. We had Sweet Child of Vine and Worthy Adversary on tap, and some of the bikers had the great idea to fill their water bottles -- talk about energy drinks! The silent auction was stocked with hot items. Between $6,000 - $7,000 was raised for the LIVESTRONG - Here is a link to the Rally Numbers. Lastly, you can check out Andy's blog here to keep up to date on his inspiring journey and Blood+Sweat+Chemo.

Sapor Beer Dinner

Join us for a 3 course Beer Dinner at Sapor on Saturday, February 26th!  Each course will be paired with one Fulton beer style.  That beer will be used in the dish itself, and will be served as two 5 ounce pours, one of which will be infused with something special to pair with the meal.  We'll gather in the bar at 6:30, and be seated for dinner at 7:00. $55 per person, call Sapor at 612-375-1971 for reservations. 

Gathering: pint of either Sweet Child of Vine (India Pale Ale) or Lonely Blonde (American Blonde Ale) and a nibble

1st Course: black bean tamale, arugula, chipotle blonde viniagrette, paired with Lonely Blonde and grapefruit infused Lonely Blonde

 2nd Course: chicken mole, poblano stout mole, paired with Worthy Adversary (Russian Imperial Stout) and Worthy Adversary infused with cocoa nibs and cordillera 100% cacao

3rd Course: tropical fruit semifreddo paired with Sweet Child of Vine and Sweet Child of Vine infused with whole leaf Cascade hops and orange peel

Winterfest!

Winterfest is tomorrow, support your Minnesota Craft Brewers! We are looking forward to participating next year when our brewery is up and running on Minnesota soil.  To check out all the great offerings at the fest, click here.

Winter Beer Dabbler

Thanks to everyone who tromped through the snow to visit us - we had a lot of fun creating some special infusions for the event and it was a great crowd to share them with. (Only true Minnesotans are happy in an outdoor park in January.) We were also excited to serve the first cask of this year's War & Peace. A big thanks to the Beer Dabbler for putting on a fun event - we're already looking forward to next year...and hopefully our hands will have warmed up by then.

Fulton's Winter Beer Dabbler Lineup

Great news for today's Beer Dabbler! It's not raining (like it was last year), it's not snowing (like it has been for most of the winter) and it's not subzero temperatures (like it has been for the last few weeks). The mild weather alone would be enough to make the Dabbler even better than last year's, but we thought we'd put together a sweet beer lineup just in case that wasn't enough to get you excited. Here's what we'll be pouring:

* The Lonely Blonde

* Sweet Child of Vine

* War & Peace (Worthy Adversary cask infused with whole bean Guatemalan Dark Peace Coffee)

* Double dry hopped & orange peel-infused Sweet Child of Vine

* Lonely Blonde infused with blood oranges

Courage Center's Moonlight Madness

Fulton Beer is proud to be a sponsor of the 2nd annual Moonlight Madness, a fundraiser for the Courage center!

The Courage Center is a Minnesota-based non-profit rehabilitation and resource center that empowers people with disabilities to realize their full potential in every aspect of life. They use a holistic approach that includes comprehensive rehabilitation therapies, independent living services, drivers services, a community reintegration program, accessible aquatics and fitness programs, camps, and adapted sports and recreation programs.

Moonlight Madness is a ski and concert event on Friday, February 18th at Trollhaugen in Dresser Wisconsin.  It is $35 for a ski pass/concert ticket (buy tickets here), doors open at 5:00, the fun goes until 1:00 a.m., and all proceeds benefit the Courage Center Ski & Snowboard Program, which teaches adaptive ski and snowboard techniques to skiers and boarders with disabilities.  There will be performances by Trampled by Turtles, Dave Pirner (lead singer for Soul Asylum), Dan Rodriguez, Throw the Fight, and Kayzak, not to mention hot tubs, skiing and snowboarding,  fire eaters and jugglers, games and prizes from REI and Hiogards, bi-ski rides, US Paralympic athletes, food, and of course Fulton Beer!

We hope to see you out!  This is going to be a lot of fun, and we hope to raise lots of money for a really great cause.  Cheers!

Just ordered equipment for our Minneapolis brewery!

Brewhouse & Fermenters

When completed, our equipment will look similar to this.

After what feels like an eternity, we've finally ordered equipment for our Minneapolis brewery. Shopping for commercial brewing equipment, as the Dude would say, has a lot of ins, a lot of outs, and a lot of what-have-you's. Breweries are complicated and expensive, so we had to make sure we selected a manufacturer that would be with us for the long haul. We spoke with a number of vendors, and were impressed with more than one, but ultimately decided to purchase from DME of Prince Edward Island, Canada. We'll be getting a 20 barrel (bbl) brewhouse with four 40 bbl fermenters and one 40 bbl brite tank. Over the years, DME has built equipment for craft breweries all over the world--including one of our absolute favorite places to get a beer in Minneapolis, Town Hall Brewery. There's a lot more to it than just picking a manufacturer and the size of brewhouse, though. We spent hours on the phone with DME, poring over quotes and spec sheets, and talking to other brewers. Virtually every component can be customized. Do we want steam or direct-fired heat? Should we save money and run the whirlpool in our boil kettle, or spring for a separate whirlpool right away? Would we rather dry hop through a dosing port or a manway? Do we want to spend more on a better control panel that we might not need now, but will be better if we expand down the road? Customization is great, but every decision requires a tradeoff--either purely in brewing terms, or between brewing needs and financial realities. Right now, the equipment is in the engineering phase. In a little over a month, DME will begin fabrication of the equipment, based on the specs and layout of our brewery. If everything stays on track, we should be taking delivery of the equipment in early-mid summer. That's when the fun will really begin.

Fulton's 'War & Peace' Coffee Stout

 

Minnesota winters build character. So do imperial stouts. Add dark roasted coffee beans to the mix, and you get a winter sipper worthy enough for even the heartiest Minnesotan.

Last year when we launched The Worthy Adversary for the first time we decided to experiment with one of our favorite coffees, Peace Coffee.  We were pleased with the results -- Peace Coffee's quality coffee flavors are a perfect enhancement to our rich and creamy stout.  This year, we again infused only four firkins with Peace Coffee's Guatemalan Dark Roast beans. We'll be tapping them at some special winter events, so stay tuned.

The name "War and Peace" was inspired by Tolstoy's classic novel.  Since we were infusing our Russian Imperial Stout with Peace coffee, it seemed like a fitting name. Later on, we found out that "Fulton" actually means "war" in Gaelic. And if you want to get philosophical, you could say it's how we feel about Minnesota winters - we're at war with the cold in the midst of a serenely peaceful snowy landscape.

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