It isn’t your typical enforcer of alcohol laws who gets three beers named after him.
But Comptroller Peter Franchot is not your typical regulator.
Franchot, who has emerged as the No. 1 cheerleader for Maryland’s craft breweries, this week concludes a months-long examination of state beer laws as his Reform on Tap Task Force winds up its schedule of 10 public meetings.
It’s been a frothy experience for the three-term comptroller, who has traveled to breweries across the state to meet with industry leaders, sip beers from lager to stout and proclaim the potential of an industry that has grown from about 10 mostly small operations a decade ago to about 80 today.
Some of those breweries are chafing under Maryland’s liquor laws, which put limits on how much they can sell directly to consumers and when they can do so.
Franchot held forth this month on the benefits of unleashing the Maryland beer industry as Gov. Larry Hogan and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp listened. Speaking at a meeting of the state’s spending panel, he said Maryland’s brewers, wineries and distillery business could grow in three to four years to a $10 billion industry.
“I don’t think the brewers are being unreasonable in asking us to please get out of the way and let them do what they’re good at: Brew good beer and sell it to the public,” the Democrat said.
Hogan, a Republican, echoed Franchot’s remarks.
“It is really unfortunate we’re doing things to hurt the industry,” he said. “But I’m with the comptroller in trying to take care of that.”