Minnesota Brewery Has to Leave Minnesota to Expand
One of Minnesota's largest craft breweries is getting even bigger-- but has to cross the state line into Wisconsin in order to do it.
I've been a big fan of all of Minnesota's incredible craft breweries ever since I moved here to the Land of 10,000 Lakes nearly a decade ago. And one of my favorites has been Liftbridge Brewing Company in Stillwater (a little over an hour and twenty minutes north of Rochester.) They're one of the most well-known names in Minnesota's craft beer scene, and started brewing their beer back in 2008. They opened their current taproom at their brewery in Stillwater in 2011.
They've produced some great beers that are pretty well-known not only in the Twin Cities but here in southeast Minnesota, as well. (I'm pretty fond of their Mango Blonde ale, their Hop Dish IPA and their Juice-Z New England IPA among others.) And, of course, their limited-release Mini-Donut Beer, which is only available at the Minnesota State Fair (and only at the Ballpark Cafe at the Great Minnesota Get-Together) has been a favorite of mine for several years as well.
And they were set to expand their operation here in Minnesota last year... until the pandemic hit, that is. Those brutal shutdowns put the brakes on things for a lot of businesses across Minnesota, including Lift Bridge's expansion.
But now, as things improve in 2021, Lift Bridge just announced their expansion is back on-- except, it's taking place across the St. Croix River in Wisconsin. In New Richmond, to be exact. And it's all because of Minnesota's antiquated laws that regulate breweries and others involved in liquor sales.
Due to a litany of complicated reasons, Lift Bridge is getting close to not being able to sell their own beer to-go at their taproom, thanks to a strange law that prohibits breweries from selling growlers if they produce more than 20,000 barrels a year. (5 other Minnesota breweries including Surly, Castle Rock, Schell's, Fulton and Summit are already not able to sell growlers at their taprooms thanks to this weird, outdated law.)
So, Lift Bridge is moving their expansion to Wisconsin-- where the liquor laws aren't so restrictive. This BringMeTheNews story says they're on track to open their second production facility and taproom in New Richmond in May. "We’re looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunities and laws Wisconsin has to offer while remaining true to our roots in Stillwater," Brad Glynn, Lift Bridge's co-founder and VP of marketing, said in the story.
While Liftbridge's new facility in Wisconsin is only about 20 miles away from their main brewery and taproom in Stillwater, it's too bad they have to leave Minnesota in order to expand. Because, despite our weird, outdated liquor laws, Minnesota IS a great place to live, right? But even here, some places ARE better than others. Do you live in one of the BEST places here in Minnesota? Keep scrolling to find out!