How to Write a Response Letter. Example: @Rep_SAnderson on #SundaySalesMN

I don’t think allowing Sunday liquor store sales in Minnesota is the biggest issue facing the state, but it’s never a bad time to kill off Minnesota’s ridiculous blue laws. So, when MN Beer Activists sent out an alert that they were making a push on allowing Sunday sale, I was willing spend a minute filling out an online plea to MN’s elected officials.

Since then, it’s been interesting to watch the replies roll it. It turns out that the email went to ALL state level elected officials and not just the ones who represent me, so I’ve been receiving emails from state senators and reps who’ve found time to respond to non-constituents about this issue.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

2/3 of the responses I’ve received have been from DFL legislators, and 100% of responses have been from people who support changing the law to allow Sunday sales.

Of the responses I’ve received, by far the best has come from Sarah Anderson. While politically divisive, she at least offers some decent advice on who to talk to if this issue is important to you:

Dear Sunday Liquor Sales Supporter,

Thank you for supporting my efforts to allow for the sale of liquor on Sundays. I voted FOR Sunday Liquor Sales, along with 21 of my colleagues.

Currently, the House, Senate, and Governor’s office are controlled by Democrats. Key Democrat leaders who OPPOSED Sunday Liquor Sales include: Joe Atkins, Paul Thissen, and Erin Murphy. Joe Atkins (Democrat – Mendota Heights) is the Chair of the Commerce Committee. Legislation on Sunday Liquor Sales needs to go through his committee. Paul Thissen (Democrat – Minneapolis) is the Speaker of the House. Speaker Thissen controls what bills are heard on the House Floor. Erin Murphy (Democrat – St. Paul) is the Majority Leader of the House. She advises Speaker Thissen on what bills should be heard on the House Floor.

For Sunday Liquor Sales to pass, the dynamic at the Legislature needs to change. I encourage you to contact your legislator and express your views.

Thanks again for your support!

Sincerely,

Sarah Anderson
State Representative

That’s a solid letter. She states where she stands and points to who’s worth talking to for people who’d like to see this issue get resolved and put behind us. If all response letters from elected officials were this good, I think we’d have a far more informed and engaged public.

That said, it makes me wonder what type of letter Rep. Anderson wrote to people opposed to the Vikings stadium corporate welfare bill. She voted against that bill, which was great. But, at the time, did she write back to people opposed to the bill with letters like this?

Currently, the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. Kurt Zellers (Republican – Maple Grove) is the Speaker of the House. Speaker Zellers controls what bills are heard on the House Floor. Matt Dean (Republican – Dellwood) is the Majority Leader of the House. He advises Speaker Zellers on what bills should be heard on the House Floor.

For the Vikings stadium corporate welfare baill to not pass, the dynamic at the Legislature needs to change. I encourage you to contact your legislator and express your views.

It would be great if she had, but I doubt it. Perhaps it’s possible to be powerless while in the minority and majority?

How to Build a Pub Crawl on Google Maps

The last thing I want to hear from someone is “I would have planned a pub crawl, but I couldn’t figure out how to map it.” So, I need to do my part to make sure I never hear that. Or, at least have somewhere I can point people when they say that.

Here’s how to do it on Google Maps:

Google a Venue:

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 3.21.31 PM

You now have a starting point. Click on the venue on the map and select Directions:

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 3.22.33 PM

When you do that, Google will assume two things:

1. that you’re trying to figure out how to get to this venue rather than how to get from that venue to the next.

2. That you’ll be driving between destinations.

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 3.23.23 PM

Click the arrows on the right to toggle the venue to your starting point, and select biking/walking/transit for your preferred mode of transportation.

3. Add a destination.

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 3.26.30 PM

Google will generally provide you with a variety of route options. In this case, Google took the most conservative from a dealing with cars option for getting from Harriet Brewing to Fulton Brewery but showed that there were faster options depending on your comfort level. It also shows that the LRT is faster than biking between these two venues (based on Google’s biking speed assumptions).

4. Add another venue.

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 3.29.51 PM

This is where it gets fun. You can add and add and add more and more venues until you run our of steam. You can also delete destinations by clicking the “X” to the right of a venue when you change your mind.

5. Check your total distance/time.

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 3.32.22 PM

Google will tell you how long the route is and how long they think it will take using your choice of transportation. Build in some stretch goals.

You may also be able to estimate when you’ll arrive at each destination, so people who miss the first venue can catch up. Whatever you estimate will probably be wrong, but your friends will be waiting for you with beer in hand, so there’s no harm in that.

6. Share your map.

Get the word out. Click the Link icon, then shorten that URL to an email/twitter friendly length.

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 3.38.25 PM

That covers it. If you run into trouble, leave a comment and I’ll update this. If you succeed and need a +1, count me in.

Arden Hills Loses Business to Minneapolis (not the Vikings Stadium yet)

R.T. Rybak points out on The Mayor Blog that Minneapolis is growing revenue and creating jobs with beer. Among the beer related jobs wins for the city was the 2008 relocation of Minnesota’s largest beer distributor from way out in Arden Hills to the centrally located Mid-City industrial area near I-280 and 35W:

J.J. Taylor is the largest beer distributor in Minnesota, moving 7,000,000 cases of beer a year. The company’s roots are in Minneapolis — their predecessor began in Northeast in 1933, right after Prohibition ended — but in recent years, they had been based in Arden Hills. Then three years ago, they moved back into Northeast Minneapolis, into a much larger facility in the Mid-City Industrial Area that many people will remember as the old Dayton’s furniture warehouse, and have invested several million dollars to upgrade it.

J.J. Taylor is a good employer, too: their 245 employees (nearly half of whom are unionized Teamsters) earn an average of $56,000 a year, with good benefits. Not surprisingly, they have high seniority and very low turnover.

And they’re good citizens: they pay $14 million a year in federal, state and local taxes and play a big role in fighting underage drinking and alcohol addition.

Plus, a business’s moving from Arden Hills to Minneapolis is a direction that I like.

It turns out that J.J. Taylor’s Minnesota roots trace back to Northeast Minneapolis in 1933:

The Company has continued to grow since Joe began the business. In 1985, the Company acquired East Side Beverage in Minnesota. East Side Beverage began in the beer distribution business in 1933 in Northeast Minneapolis and was founded by two brothers who took to the streets selling Grain Belt and other local brands of beer from a model “A” truck.

From a Model “A” truck to the former Dayton’s warehouse on Industrial Boulevard is serious growth. You could fit quite a few Model “A” trucks in the 27,000 sq ft beer cooler within the 600,000 sq ft warehouse.

Thank Gary Schiff for Minneapolis’ Beer Business Renaissance

Minneapolis city councilperson, Gary Schiff, deserves quite a bit of credit for Minneapolis’ beer business renaissance. For example, Schiff wrote the Brew Beer Here bill (PDF) this summer, which allows growler sales from breweries, which lead to opening of Harriet Brewing on Minnehaha Ave in Longfellow:

Ward 9 Council Member Gary Schiff has introduced legislation to eliminate the requirement for a microbrewer to have an on-sale license in order to be able to sell malt liquor products that are produced and packaged on the premises.

“This law will enable people to buy growlers (half-gallon containers of beer) at the brewery site,” Schiff said. Currently, the State of Minnesota allows microbreweries to sell growlers directly from the brewery if the annual beer production is less than 3,500 barrels. But breweries in Minneapolis can’t sell growlers unless they have an on-sale license. And to qualify for the on sale license, the brewery must sell 60 per cent food in ratio to 40 per cent liquor.

And Schiff, together with Elizabeth Glidden, put together the Surly Bill, which hasn’t brought Surly to town yet, but allowed Fulton to open their doors this week in the North Loop:

City officials also have been pursuing Surly for a potential riverfront location.

The proposal by council members Gary Schiff and Elizabeth Glidden applies to brewers that produce fewer than 250,000 barrels annually. Fulton hopes to brew about 3,300 barrels a year at first.

And, guess who wrote the bill that overturned the ban on restaurant-pubs within 300 feet of churches in Minneapolis? Gary Schiff.

Minneapolis city councilman Gary Schiff believes the 300-foot restriction between a church and restaurant-bar is a relic from an era long past.

“This is a recession. We need to do anything we can to scrap these old laws off the books, clear the red tape and create jobs,” said Schiff.

We can go back to 2002 for yet another example of how Gary Schiff has made Minneapolis a better place to eat and easier place for restaurants to do business. Back in the day, restaurants had to bring in their furniture every night, which led to them purchasing crappy plastic stackable furniture. Once that was changed, restaurants were able to invest in higher quality furniture:

Lovers of outdoor dining can start writing their thank-you notes to Council Member Gary Schiff. The 9th Ward rep, working with the 7th Ward’s Lisa Goodman, is sponsoring a measure with new language that would encourage easier-to-manage and better-looking sidewalk cafes.

The current ordinance, most recently amended 11 years ago, requires that all furniture, planters and other materials be removed from the sidewalk when the restaurant isn’t operating. The Schiff-Goodman proposal – which is aimed specifically at downtown real estate – will permit permanent furniture

Great stuff. All are examples of low to no-cost regulatory modifications that allow businesses to grow while residents and visitors enjoy our city. I’ll drink to that.

Beer Will Be Served at Gopher Football Games

I’m not sayin’ that serving beer at Gopher football games is inevitable. I’m just sayin’ that I snapped this shot of pre-installed beer taps in the stadium last fall:

Taps in Place at TCF Stadium / Gopher Football

This was on the 3rd floor in the DQ Club Room. This is only accessible by people in box seats, as I understand it, so it’s possible that they could provide beer to only those who are somebody or know somebody. In my case, I was a tag along with somebody who was somebody compared to me among people who decide who’s somebody and who isn’t. Had there been beer to drink, I probably would have gone there rather than sip Caribou Coffee.

Sipping Caribou Coffee at the Gopher Game

Zipp’s Bro-Tastic Beer Pong Kits

Bro-Tastic Beer Pong Kits

Zipp’s seems to understand the beer pong market well based on their bro-tastic labeling of beer pong kits. It’s tough for dude-bros to make a separate stop at Target to pick up ping pong balls, so hook them up with kits on the spot. This may also remind them that they need a few extra cases of Icehouse in case the keg runs out.

I wonder if the reports of H1N1 spreading via beer pong has had an impact on sales?

Hamm’s Bear Tribute Done Right

I’ve written previously about the marginal tribute to the Hamm’s Bear in downtown St. Paul, so imagine my surprise when I encountered this piece of Hamm’s awesomeness tucked away in the corner of the Good Ol’ Days Bar in Tower, MN:

Hamm's Bear at Good Ol' Days Bar in Tower, MN

Now that is a tribute. Especially when compared to a tombstone. Here’s a closer look:

Hamm's Bear at Good Ol' Days Bar in Tower, MN

Tower, MN: 1
St Paul: 0

NY Times PR Pimps Low-Alcohol Beers

Few things make me blow beer out of my nose faster than a canned trend piece from the NY Times. I’m going to have to use a mop on my keyboard after publishing this.

It looks like the low-alcohol beer industry has a decent PR firm. They managed to get the NY Times to pen 1500 words on this non-starter.

Here’s how you can tell that something in the NY Times is a PR generated BS article that insults the fish wrap it’s printed on: it include the phrase “small but growing number”:

While many craft brewers are trying to quench the nation’s growing thirst for extreme beers pumped with alcohol, Mr. Taylor is one of a small but growing number of brewers, beer experts and importers who are applying the brakes and turning toward well-made low-alcohol beers

Good for you, Mr. Taylor. I hope you find a market for you non-light light beer. But your product is not part of a “small but growing number” just because a PR firm convinces someone in the business section at the NY Times to write about it.

If you think I’m kidding about the use of the term “small but growing number” I’m not. The NY Times has 36,000 uses of the term indexed in Google.

In case you didn’t know, a “small but growing number” of business travelers are choosing to stay in B&B’s according to the PR person who sold that story to the Times.

site:nytimes.com small but growing number

Betsy Andrews got paid to regurgitate the low-alcohol beer story and Joe Sharky covered the B&B for Businesses “trend” back in 1999 that’s really swept the nation over the past 9 years. Not. (An expression that also hasn’t swept the nation over the past 9 years.)

Bulldog Lowertown St Paul: For Realz

This just in from Olive in the comments of the previous Bulldog St Paul post:

Bulldog Lowertown is a sure thing! You can expect an opening sometime in the last week of Sept -first week of Oct. 40 tap beers, shuffel board, and of course vienna beef dogs and hamburgers, plus a few new menu items. Oh and lets not forget the tots!!!!

Excellent!