Imagine if you will a world where craft brewers were not forced to use filthy rich distributors to deliver their good damn beer to whoever and however they wanted. No law telling them they can’t serve their good damn beer in their own good damn brewery. No rules, no restrictions, no special permission to cross state lines. Aaaahhhh…ok, back to reality.
There’s something incomparably special about the first day an out-of-state brewery you have always admired starts distributing in your state. It’s like being a kid on Christmas day again. The anticipation built up from reading the press release about expanded distribution plans spills over into joy and euphoria as you walk into your local craft beer outlet and see the new labels on the shelf from afar. It’s akin to seeing Santa Clause from a distance before sitting on his lap at the mall. One feels excitement coupled with disbelief. In Wisconsin, for thousands of craft beer fans that day was June first.
Surly Brewing Co. based in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, outside of Minneapolis, is finally (legally) making their good damn beer available to the good folks in my home state of Wisconsin. The days of thousands of Surly cans stashed in Wisconsinite car trunks being sneaked over state lines has finally come to an end – I cannot say the same about the state of New Glarus beer in Minnesota.
Wisconsin residents no longer must beg friends – or strangers in desperate situations – to bring Surly home when they visit Minnesota. For me, it’s an end to my side career as a beer smuggler, as I made many a Surly runs for the good damn beer drinkers in my circle. Now, my friends and I can drink Surly whenever we damn well please.
As of the posting of this article, the decision to expand into Wisconsin has proved to be a huge success for the Minnesota brewer. Stores can’t keep it on the shelves, and takeovers by an out-of-state brewery haven’t been so frequent since New Belgium entered Wisconsin in 2009. Even Wisconsin craft brewers are putting it in their tap rooms, which is a real testament to how supportive the craft beer community is at large – just further proof that when it comes to good damn beer, there’s always room for more.
Unfortunately, there are still many more breweries I’d like to see become available in my state. Are you reading this Odell? Wisconsin is chock full of great craft beer form brewers within the state and from around the country, but we know of beers that have won award after award and are forever being written about online and in magazines that we can only drool over here. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy with what we have to sample, but I want the ability to choose from all the craft beer, from everywhere. I’m sure that – wherever you are – you’d like a chance to taste all the craft beer the Badger State has to offer, too. I understand not all breweries have the desire to expand out of their home states or have the means to do so. In some cases; however, antiquated laws are what prevent tasty suds from reaching my proper glassware. That’s not fine with me, when special interests block my tongue from the experience of a flavorful buzz. To be fair, laws and regulations are starting to loosen more, but big money – or Big Beer – and politicians are always pushing back, which almost guarantees cross-border beer runs will continue for years to come. There is a flip side. If you have ever exchanged beer with with others from outside your state, you know how much fun that can be. But even sending beer through the mail is illegal in some states.
Hopefully some day craft brewers will be able to to do whatever they please with their own good damn beer. Until then, it’s our duty as craft beer loyalists to continue sharing our states’ beers with those outside of our states who crave it. In the meantime, just kick back, enjoy one of the amazing brews from your own state and try to get a little sleep at night while you childishly await your next craft beer Christmas.