Anoka opening its doors to craft brewing

While the craft beer movement has not set up shop in Anoka just yet, the stage is set for that to happen.

The Anoka City Council has approved a list of rules that would welcome a brew pub, taproom or brewery to the city.

These new rules were finalized after being introduced early in 2012.

At the time, the city was pitching Brooklyn Center-based Surly Brewing Company, which was looking to find a new home in the Twin Cities, said City Manager Tim Cruikshank.

Surly did not choose Anoka, but staff were able to make their case to founder and President Omar Ansari.

“We were excited about that and our staff did a good job of putting Anoka in front of [Ansari],” Cruikshank said.

Surly recently announced plans to build a $20 million “destination brewery” in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis.

“Just because Surly found a home doesn’t mean we’re going to stop looking,” Cruikshank said. “Anoka, with its history and its river presence, would sure make a good home for a taproom someday and we hope we get one.”

The new rules would also allow for a smaller brewing operation in a restaurant.

“There are plenty of restaurants that have a brew operation with one or two tanks in their place,” Councilmember Steve Schmidt said. “That would put another element in the various restaurants around here.”

According to a series of ordinances unanimously approved by the council, breweries would be allowed in the industrial park, with taprooms as an accessory use. A brewery could also locate in the transit oriented district around Anoka’s Northstar Commuter Rail Station.

Brew pubs, which are already allowed in the Main Street mixed use district, will now also be permitted in the B1, B2 and B3 business districts, according to Planning Director Carolyn Braun.

Braun said the city needed to take its time finalizing these rules to make sure the new ordinances work with the state statute governing the city’s current municipal liquor operations.

Before state legislation was passed in 2011, breweries who distributed their product to bars and liquor stores were not able to sell beer in on-site taprooms.

The liquor license fee for a brew pub or taproom would be $300, consistent with the city’s on-sale malt liquor license, said City Clerk Amy Oehlers.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]