North Dakota ale inspired by legislative bill

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Mike Frohlich is no stranger to the legislative process.

Since 2009, the co-owner of Laughing Sun Brewing Company in Bismarck has testified in sessions at the North Dakota Capitol for brew licensing, in addition to similar efforts before the Bismarck City Commission.

Now a beer has honored Senate Bill 2343, which seeks to expand some functions of breweries, such as pouring beer at special events, selling certain amounts of beer and transferring beer among entities, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Laughing Sun’s “Legislative Session Ale” is an experimental pale ale that was in its bright tank when the bill unanimously passed the Senate.

“In celebration of those things, those accomplishments that we’ve been working toward, we just decided to name that beer ‘Legislative Session Ale,’” Frohlich said.

The ale’s 10-barrel batch may last into May, he added.

So could this legislative session, limited to 80 days, or until May 2.

The bill comes from collaboration among the North Dakota Brewers Guild, state Tax Department and wholesalers after a similar bill failed 4-41 in the Senate in 2017.

Republican Sen. Jerry Klein of Fessenden introduced the bill after helping facilitate discussion before this session.

“All the gorillas were in the room,” Klein said. “So we worked with that and came up with what we believe is a reasonable solution and where the brewers were on board, the distributors were on board.”

Some of the issues at play in the bill are rooted in North Dakota’s era as a dry state, he added — now faced with the trends of local craft brewing.

Frohlich said the bill is good for a growing industry of about 25 breweries in North Dakota, from Fargo to Bismarck to Watford City.

North Dakota Brewers Guild treasurer Jesse Feigum, of Fargo’s Drekker Brewing Company, said the bill updates state law for “a commonsense approach” to what breweries can do and what consumers want.

Breweries are a tourism draw, Feigum said, and people want to try local options.

“For us, it was a taste of Fargo, a taste of North Dakota,” Feigum said.

The bill received a 13-0 “do pass” recommendation from the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee. The full House may vote on the bill soon and then send it to Gov. Doug Burgum.