The two are facing felony charges for bootlegging (transporting alcohol without a license) by driving to Wisconsin to pick up 10 kegs of legal beer made by a licensed brewer.
In a scene right out of Prohibition, undercover agents walked into the Maple Tavern in Maple Grove, Minnesota, and ordered pints of Spotted Cow, a popular ale made by the New Glarus brewery in Wisconsin. After they got their beer, the agents had the beer tested, and later arrested Brandon Hlavka and David Lantos because Spotted Cow can be legally sold only in Wisconsin, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Hlavka and Lantos acknowledged they drove to Wisconsin to get the ale last April because it is not sold by distributors in Minnesota. Undercover agents from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety visited the tavern after receiving a tip.
21st Century Prohibition
If the two are found guilty, they could face at least one year in jail, Watchdog Minnesota reports. The two are scheduled to be in court on March 2.
Watchdog.org writer Eric Boehm said the entire episode is ludicrous.
“The two men bought the beer in Wisconsin, which is legal,” he wrote. “They brought it back across the border to Minnesota, which is legal … as long as you don’t re-sell the product. They served it in a bar that has a license to sell beer in Minnesota, which is also legal. And even though those three things are legal in the abstract, when you put them together it is a recipe for a felony offense.”
Interestingly enough, St. Paul, Minnesota, near Maple Grove, was a famous center for bootlegging during Prohibition, Boehm noted.
“But now, long after Prohibition has ended, Minnesota might send two men to jail for selling beer,” Boehm wrote. “That’s life in the Nanny State. I need a drink.”
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