The Strange Beverage That’s Only Sold Here in Minnesota
When it comes to unique beverages, we take the cake here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Because we're the ONLY state that still sells this drink. All 49 other states have gotten rid of it. Heck, even the conservative state of Utah got rid of its requirement to sell this stuff back in 2020.
The mystery beverage I'm talking about is something called 3.2 beer-- beer that has an alcohol-by-volume percentage of only 3.2-- well below the alcohol content contained in most beers these days. "3.2 Beer" or "Near Beer," as it's jokingly been referred to over the years, is the only beer that's still legal for grocery and convenience stores to sell here in Minnesota.
So how did 3.2 beer even become a thing? According to this TwinCities.com story, it dates back to Prohibition-- when selling and possessing any alcohol was illegal. Minnesota's legislature tried to get around the federal law by passing its own state law that said any beverage with an alcohol percentage of 3.2 or lower wasn't really an alcoholic beverage-- and thus could still be legally sold.
But why is it still around today? Because Minnesota is REALLY slow to update its liquor laws, apparently. Now, to be fair, Governor Walz DID sign a bill in 2022 that modernized some of Minnesota's archaic brewery laws, raising the cap on growler sales at craft breweries. But a provision in that bill that would have allowed grocery and convenience stores to sell the high-octane, regular beer was deleted.
And DFL legislative leaders in charge of committees that oversee alcohol laws did NOT hear any bills on allowing grocery and convenience stores to see stronger beer or wine this year, either. This means Minnesota grocery and convenience stores will continue to only be able to sell 3.2 beer, a fact the president of Minnesota's Retailers Association noted earlier this spring.
I'm surprised any breweries still even MAKE 3.2 beer. They can't be selling very much of it, right? Will 3.2 beer EVER go by the wayside here in the North Star State? Only time will tell, I guess.
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