Roseville ‘brewstillery’ pushing for state law change


Mike Munzenrider • Bartley Blume, who owns Roseville’s Bent Brewstillery, is pushing for a change in state law that would allow for businesses such as his, which makes beer and spirits, to sell both at the site of production. Blume is seen in the Bent taproom with the brewstillery’s second whiskey offering, One-Twenty, which went on sale Dec. 2.

Minnesota state law is clear: If a company both brews beer and distills spirits, it can have a taproom or a cocktail room where its production takes place, but it can’t have both.

Roseville’s Bent Brewstillery, the first place in the state to do both, is trying to change that law, and owner Bartley Blume said he’s feeling confident it could happen soon.

“I think our chances this year are very, very good,” Blume said on a recent afternoon while sitting in the taproom at the brewstillery, located at 1744 Terrace Drive. 

Bent makes beer on site — it usually has a dozen or so brews on tap — and also produces spirits like vodka, gin and rum. 

More recently, due to the years sunk into the barrel-aging process, it’s unveiled whiskeys. 

Bent’s first, a hopped whiskey called exSPIRITmental, of which 200 bottles were made, sold out in about two and a half hours, according to Blume.

A second Bent whiskey, called One-Twenty, was released during a Dec. 2 event. Blume explained it’s 120 proof, and unlike most whiskeys nowadays, is bottled without being watered down because he liked it that way. 

Though the release took place after the deadline for this edition of the paper, Blume predicted that One-Twenty would sell out in short order.

In line with the taproom/cocktail room law, Bent shouldn’t have been able to serve anything made with One-Twenty during the release, though Blume said he got a special cocktail license for the day, allowing the brewstillery to serve Manhattans and old fashioned cocktails.

 

Onward

Blume said he has support in both the House and Senate for a law change and even has a bill written; now he just needs a lobbyist and the extra cash to pay the lobbyist.

“It takes money because we’re fighting money,” he said, pointing out he’s going up against the same interests that fought other recent liquor law changes at the state level, such as Sunday sales.

Though Blume said he understands some of the opposition to changing the law about taprooms and cocktail rooms coexisting — much of it is about protecting liquor stores and bars — he argued cocktail sales at the brewstillery would drive happy tipplers to area sellers.

“Our local retailers are some of our biggest retailers,” he said. “We like those partnerships.”

Blume said his goal is to raise $10,000 for lobbying purposes, and to do so, he’s set up an online fundraising page, a link to which can be found at www.bentbrewstillery.com/its-cocktail-time.

Otherwise, as he waits on the slow process of changing the law, Blume said Bent has more time-intensive spirits in the offing, including a rye whiskey, which “is coming out eventually,” as well as bourbon and brandy.

As for making things happen at the Legislature, Blume said he hopes to be a trailblazer like Surly Brewing, which helped propel many of the liquor production law changes that happened in the state earlier this decade, making way for the current brewing boom.

“We’re sort of on an island to ourselves,” Blume said. “We’re the one with the machete, hacking into the jungle.”

 

For more information about Bent Brewstillery go to www.bentbrewstillery.com.


– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. 

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