Ask a 'sotan: How many craft breweries can our state handle without closures?

Does it seem like we're at max brewpub? Not quite.

The raspberry chocolate truffle is a collaboration with Fargo Brewing.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative's raspberry chocolate truffle beer is a collaboration with Fargo Brewing.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News file

Ask a 'sotan is an occasional series exploring the questions from curious Minnesotans about our state. Have a question about life in Minnesota? Ask it here.

We’re collecting questions from audience members at the Minnesota State Fair MPR Booth about what they’re most curious about. One question we received: “How many craft breweries can our state handle without some closing?"

It’s true, we’ve seen a lot of new craft breweries in the past seven to eight years. In May, MPR News reported that in 2018, there were 172 active breweries in Minnesota — most of them microbreweries.

But breweries, like any business, can close for a number of different reasons.

Industry experts like John Garland, the deputy editor of Growler Magazine, don’t believe that any recent closures signal an over-saturation in the brewery industry.

“Even at 180-plus breweries currently operating in the state, there’s still considerable room for growth. There are large states like Oregon and Colorado that house twice as many breweries per capita as we do,” Garland said.

It may seem like the Twin Cities market is saturated with breweries of all kinds, but Garland points out that most of the growth in breweries is happening in Greater Minnesota and suburbs.

“Bloomington, the fifth-largest city in the state, currently has no breweries or brewpubs. They’re set to vote in November on a referendum that would allow for them.” Garland said.

In the near future, Garland expects that breweries will focus on serving a specific town or community, and focus less on retail distribution.

Have a question about life in Minnesota? Submit your question here.

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