Maryland craft breweries push for reforms

Advocates say restrictions limit industry's growth
Posted at 5:27 PM, Nov 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-20 17:27:56-05

It's not for lack of effort.
At the Union Craft Brewery in Woodberry, workers fill 40 cans per minute and a thousand barrels of beer per month, yet Owner and Founder Adam Benesch says this facility and others like it in Maryland are falling behind their competitors every day.

"Currently, less than one in 10 beers consumed in Maryland was produced in Maryland, which ranks us near the bottom in the country in this regard," said Benesch.
At a time when manufacturing jobs are tough to come by, Comptroller Peter Franchot says it's time to tap into the craft beer craze, and he's pushing what's called the Reform on Tap Act of 2018 to remove a dozen or more limits on local breweries that leave their glasses half full.

"We know that Virginia is trying to lure our brewers to the Commonwealth,” said Franchot, “We know of breweries that have decided not to open in Maryland at all, and of course, most recently, Flying Dog Brewery up in Senator Young's district in Frederick cancelled their $54 million expansion due to Maryland's anti-craft beer laws."
Limits on how much beer can be produced, sold and distributed, along with mandated franchises have had a chilling effect on businesses here, and a bill, which opened the door for Guinness to come here last year, all, but closed the door on locals to grow.

"It's a little bit like the medieval guild during the Middle Ages where it was a monopoly and the incumbents wouldn't let anybody else in,” said Franchot, “That's what we have in Maryland right now."
Proponents of the reforms are trying to convince powerful retailers and distributors that bigger local brewers would produce bigger payouts for them as well, but many fear convincing Maryland lawmakers to reverse course on the year-old restrictions will be a tough sell.

"They don't know.  They were just told it was a good thing and they all voted for it,” said Sen. Ronald Young (D-Frederick County), “So you have got to get to your delegates and senators."
As an example of the current restrictions, right now, if a craft brewery wants to sell more of its beer onsite than its permitted, it must first transport it to a distributor and then buy it back at a higher price and then have it trucked back to the taproom---all to conform with Maryland law.