UPDATE 3/31: The Brewers Association of Maryland is working with representatives of alcohol industry associations to develop consensus amendments to HB1283. Stay tuned for details.
HB1283 as passed by the Maryland House of Delegates raises the amount of a brewery’s own beer it may sell at the brewery, but at a severe cost to local brewers.
“The bill proposes fundamental setbacks to our brewers’ businesses, and was originally crafted without input by the Maryland beer community,” said Ben Savage, president of the Brewers Association of Maryland (BAM).
While the legislation raises the cap on the amount of beer a brewery may sell in its taproom, it significantly rolls back the hours for public visitation. Class 5 breweries that hold a local Class D or on-premise consumption permit are currently permitted to operate until 12am or 2am, depending on their jurisdiction. The bill lowers hours to 9pm Sunday through Thursday and 10pm Friday and Saturday.
“Our brewery has become a popular destination for the community during the late afternoon and evenings, and this bill fundamentally changes the rules on us without our input,” said Adam Benesch, Co-Founder of Union Craft Brewing. “It will change our ability to have reasonable public hours at the brewery, which will cause us to potentially lay off 5-10 employees.” Union is considering a significant expansion this summer, though the legislation is forcing them to reevaluate the investment.
Another provision of the bill restricts beer sold in the taproom to beer produced at the brewery. Many startup brewers—and those who have reached production capacity—contract with neighbor brewers to assist in the production of their beer.
“We invested over $3 million in this brewer, created 12 jobs, brought a world-renowned brewmaster to Baltimore and now produce beer for startup breweries throughout Maryland,” said Dick O’Keefe, owner of Peabody Heights Brewery in Baltimore. “The bill as drafted hurts us and closes the doors for our startup clients,” noted O’Keefe.
“After investing almost $1 million in our operation, we will be forced to cancel proposed expansion plans, layoff employees and risk not meet investor and bank obligations,” said Phil Rhudy of Independent Brewing in Bel Air. ” Moreover, it will hurt the newly operational craft grain malting facility and hop growers in our county who rely on the market of small craft brewers.”
BAM urges the Senate to consider amendments to help preserve the jobs that will be lost if HB1283 is approved as written, and urges the Senate to consider input from the Brewers Association of Maryland and its craft brewer members. The amendments include:
- Restoring operating hours for Class 5 breweries;
- Allow a Class 5 brewery to brew beer for others and pour its own beer it brewed at other MD breweries (“contract brewing”).
For more information, contact:
Kevin Atticks, Executive Director
Brewers Association of Maryland
410-963-4316 cell / firstname.lastname@example.org