The bar owner admitted his manager bought kegs of Spotted Cow at a liquor store just across the border in Hudson, Wis., and spirited them back to Minnesota because customers were asking for the brew whose label features a happy and cavorting Guernsey, or maybe it's a Jersey, leaping over a map of Wisconsin, WCCO-TV of Minneapolis reported.Minor point: the spotted cow is a Holstein. Major point: we may speak of drug "cartels"; that's a misnomer. The beer cartel has the police power of the state behind it.
New Glarus Brewing Co. is not a licensed alcohol manufacturer in Minnesota. Also, no Minnesota alcohol distributors are authorized to legally distribute Spotted Cow to retailers in that state.
Each state heavily regulates entry into the market, especially on the wholesaler and distributor level with very high annual fees on business. Add in the armies of lobbyists from associations protecting those already in the industry, the unions (Teamsters) who haul their beer and spirits, and other organizations such as the Tavern League and it’s a tougher row to hoe.And the cross-state rivalry.
In New Glarus’ case, it’s about building a mystique around their brand. As an established producer of beer, they have one of the easier routes to market entry: buy a license in the states where they wish to sell and have enough of it.
New Glarus knows this. After all, it sold its wares in the Chicagoland area once upon a time. They’ve simply chosen to limit themselves to Wisconsin both to save costs and generate demand in the places it is unavailable. If they really wanted to be in Minnesota, they’d do all that the state requires of them to start selling in Minnesota.
If states allowed for easier ways to get into their distribution networks, perhaps that would change. But as long as the three-tier system sticks around, the real loser's [c.q.] are smaller companies and upstarts who can’t get past the barriers to entry as well as those beer drinkers suffering with the limited options the big, industrial breweries force on tap.
Unless that changes, the beer-smuggling will continue unabated.
A manager at Maple Tavern bought six half-barrels of Spotted Cow at a liquor store in Hudson, Wis., and took them back to his customers in the land of Lake Wobegon for a raging Garrison Kegger.Flatlanders returning south are able to bring Spotted Cow or Sprecher across the Cheddar Curtain for their own use, although those purchases are subject to the use tax reporting requirements.
He risked a lot, so I hope he received generous gratuities from his customers. It turns out Spotted Cow tipping is not a myth, unlike regular cow tipping.
With Gov. Scott Walker running around the country all the time, Wisconsin is vulnerable to these Viking raids. Clearly, Minnesota is interpreting its reciprocity with Wisconsin too broadly.
Beer borrowing from beyond their borders could get out of hand in a hurry. Don't be surprised if the Twin Cities start calling themselves Minneapolis-St. Pauli Girl. Or Maple Grove may suddenly reincorporate as Newer Glarus as a loophole. And someday you'll find yourself shopping at the Malt of America.