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A Steel Toe Taproom? Council Considering It

Following the passage of the "Surly bill" last year, breweries can now sell their brews by the pint on-site.

Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park could soon be selling its brews by the pint on-site if City Council gets behind the plan.

Council is considering implementing a "taproom" ordinance, which would allow breweries to sell their own beers—and only their own beers—on the premises.

Last year, Surly Brewing made a push at the legislature to allow just this. Before passage of the "Surly bill," Minnesota breweries couldn't sell pints on-site. Now, taprooms are popping up at Twin Cities locales such as Fulton Beer, Harriet Brewing and Lift Bridge Brewery.

City councils have been behind the surge, as the cities of Stillwater, St. Paul and Minneapolis—among others—have passed taproom ordinances based on the new state law.

On Monday, St. Louis Park City Council discussed for the first time the potential of creating its own ordinance. Though specific language has not yet been drafted, council members were generally supportive of the concept, which was brought forward by Steel Toe owner Jason Schoneman (see the attached PDF above for a letter from Steel Toe backing the plan).

"I think it's a great idea," councilwoman Anne Mavity said.

Council members did raise a few questions, however. Because the new ordinance wouldn't require food sales, councilwoman Sue Sanger said she would want the language to be clearly different from the city's standard on-sale liquor ordinance, which requires establishments sell at least as much food as liquor. Currently, is on probation for .

Similarly, Mavity asked whether there would be a way for the city to limit how many places get licensed as taprooms, as she wouldn't want to see an explosion of businesses selling liquor but no food.

City staff said the proposed ordinance could address both these issues.

Council will likely see a draft of the ordinance at a study session in the next four to six weeks. If members like what they see, it could come up for a formal vote by July.

Steel Toe owner Jason Schoneman said he likes the direction council is headed.

"I'm just encouraged by your discussion," he said after Monday's meeting.

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curt rahman May 23, 2012 at 01:21 PM
What a well-written letter to the council from Schoneman. Looks like a thoughtful plan in place for a tasty product. We love his beer and can't wait for the tap room to open.M The liquor barrel at Miracle mile has steel toe. And don't forget you can get a growler of it at the brewery several days per week. I know that Friday's late in the day they are open for growlers. Check their website.
Emily B May 24, 2012 at 03:54 AM
I hope the Council passes this, it really makes sense. Though I don't understand Mavity's concern about limiting the number of possible places doing this. It's pretty clear, it is only for breweries selling their own stuff, not any Joe with a keg. I know the microbrewery movement is growing quickly, so maybe SLP will be lucky enough to have multiple locations for which this would be possible, but it just seems like more of the same overregulated liquor laws we already have.
buddydave May 24, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Steel Toe has the potential to be the next Surly--they're that talented. With 1) an up-and-coming brewery, 2) the best beer store in the state, and 3) Midwest Homebrewing Supplies, SLP has the potential to become a nexus of Minnesota craft beer. Allowing for taprooms would be another step forward.
Michael Rose May 24, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Having our own version of Surly in town would be pretty neat!
Bill James May 27, 2012 at 01:43 PM
As I've said before: You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. Frank Zappa

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