Thanks to Surly, St. Louis Park's Steel Toe Brewing will soon be able to sell its brews by the pint on-site.
City Council on Monday unanimously approved changes to its zoning and liquor codes that will allow the year-old brewery to sell its own beer on the premises. If other breweries open in St. Louis Park, they too will be allowed to have "taprooms."
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.
The new St. Louis Park ordinance will allow taprooms at breweries that produce less than 3,500 barrels of malt liquor per year (Steel Toe makes about 500-600 barrels annually, owner and founder Jason Schoneman noted).
Additionally, local taprooms will be allowed to sell snacks, but won't be able to have full-blown kitchens. They will also be restricted to the following hours:
- Monday-Thursday: 3-8 p.m.
- Friday: 3-10 p.m.
- Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Sunday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Because St. Louis Park taprooms won't be allowed to have kitchens, they won't be held to the 50-50 food-to-liquor requirement that has for .
Schoneman said he's been working with the city on this for at least six months, so it's very sweet to see it come to fruition.
“It’s a great opportunity," he said. "It (gives us) the ability to take the brewery to the next level, really.”
As a formality, the new taproom ordinance does need to be approved by council at a second reading, which should happen in two weeks. The ordinance would then take effect in early September.
Schoneman said he hopes to be able to open his taproom later this year. He plans on adding about 30-40 seats to his small brewery.
“Now (people) can sit down and spend some time, and we can really get to know our customers,” he said.
The Steel Toe founder said he hopes getting to know customers on a more intimate level leads to more business.
“Once the (Surly bill) passed, it was like, ‘Yeah, this is a great idea,'" Schoneman said. “Especially for breweries our size that are just getting started, because it generates—hopefully—a more steady stream of cash to help us grow.”
Food trucks could also be on the horizon in the area, as City Council will soon be considering a food truck ordinance. Food trucks have become a staple outside the Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis.
Schoneman said he'd like to see them become a staple outside Steel Toe, too.
“Good food, good beer—put them together and you make people happy," he said. "It’s a win-win."