Union Editor

Anoka wants Minnesota’s breweries and brewpubs to know it is open for business.

The city council is in the midst of making a number of changes that will allow these types of businesses to locate in the city.

“This brings, I think, some exciting opportunities for the city of Anoka to market certain or specific sites that would be attractive for restaurant brewery,” said Mayor Phil Rice. “That seems to be kind of a happening thing right now.”

Last year, craft brewery Surly Brewing Co. of Brooklyn Center was successful in its lobbying efforts for a legislative change which now allows a brewery to sell and distribute its own product. Prior to the change in state law, a brewery could not sell its own beer on-site and has opened the door for others to do the same.

Surly has plans to expand its brewery and add a restaurent.

While Anoka pitched Surly, hoping to attract the business to north metro, Planning Director Carolyn Braun said the brewer wanted to stay within the 694/494 corridor.

Braun also said that while Surly was successful in getting the statute changed, so far there have been no taprooms constructed in the Minnesota.

But once the recent changes are implemented, Anoka would be ready to host this kind of business.

“We could easily have a local brewery that would want to start up and do the same thing,” said Braun. “Folks would know we’re ready for them should they be willing to locate here.”

The Anoka City Council unanimously approved a number of administrative ordinances that would allow breweries, brewpubs and taprooms in specific areas of the city.

According to staff, the Twin Cities media are reporting a surge in smaller breweries throughout the state, an opportunity Anoka could capitalize on. With zoning amendments in place, a brewery would not have to request any changes in order to locate in the city.

The changes would apply to national, regional and micro breweries. Also allowed would be a brewpub, which is a small brewery operated in conjunction with a bar or restaurant. The beer brewed at this type of establishment is only sold on-site and not distributed to other restaurants or wholesalers.

An example of this type of business would be Granite City Food and Brewery, which has a location in Maple Grove. These brewpubs are allowed to sell growlers – a 64-ounce container of beer brewed on site, which the customer can buy and take home.

Taprooms would also be allowed under the new ordinance changes. A taproom is an area in or adjacent to a brewery that allows beer to be sold and consumed on site.

Once approved, this would open up the city’s transit-oriented district near the Northstar Commuter Rail station to national, regional and micro breweries. According to information provided by city staff, breweries without a taproom would not be allowed in the transit district an effort to boost both tourism and use of the metro transit system.

All three types of breweries would also be allowed in the city’s industrial zoned areas.

Brewpubs would be allowed in the highway, shopping center and business districts.

Some members of the council already have ideas on where a brewpub could locate.

“It sounds like the kind of thing that would be very appealing in an old downtown or along a riverbank,” said Councilmember Steve Schmidt.

The city is hopeful it can attract a local brewer to either start, or relocate, its business in Anoka. The council is also very interested in attracting a riverfront restaurant north of city hall.

“Even though Surly may not be interested it opened up a huge amount of opportunity for us to go out and find one of these craft brewers, and there are a lot of them out there and they are very busy,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver. “Hopefully we’ll get one to come.”

The city is expected to finalize these changes later this month, at which time breweries, brewpubs or taprooms would officially be allowed in Anoka.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at editor.anokaunion@ecm-inc.com

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