Maryland's House passes bill that's making brewers foam with frustration.
The new law -HB1283 or 'Alcoholic Beverages - Class 5 Brewery License' is causing craft beer fans and brewers all over Maryland to sing the death of Maryland's craft beer industry. The truth is, however, that the bill only applies to the 30 largest production breweries in the state and it actually permits them to sell more beer. That means while breweries like Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, or Union will be affected, other smaller operations possess a different classification.
The main areas where HB1283 causes concern is in it's restriction on hours of operation. The new bill snuffs hours of operation for breweries from 12 a.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. weekends to 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on weekends. It also requires that brews sold in tap rooms must be produced on site. On the plus side, breweries are now allowed to serve 3,000 barrels in their tap rooms annually - a vast improvement from the previous 500 barrel restriction.
Yet, some smaller brewers worry that 'contract brews' may suffer. In order to meet production demand, smaller breweries will sometimes enlist a brewer with larger capacity to produce beer and then sell it in their tap room. That would no longer fly under this proposed legislation. Others worry that the restriction on the hours could negatively affect business.
When asked about the proposal, Kevin Atticks, executive director of the nonprofit Brewers Association of Maryland, said: “Do we love it? No. Are we happy with it? Frankly, no. … It was one step forward with the barrel increase and two steps backwards.”
Do you think this could hurt the craft beer industry? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!