When we first learned that Maryland was pursuing a new beer bill that would repeal contract brewing, cap sales the amount of beer sold on-premises (read brewery tasting rooms) to 2,000 annual barrels and exempt Guinness at the same time, we thought it was a joke…but we were wrong.
After all, no politician would be so stupid, so anti-small business and so clearly in the pocket of restaurant and distribution lobbyists…right?
Again, we’ve been proven wrong.
A little over a year ago, the Maryland Senate passed bill 1283, which raised the cap on production to 3,000 annual barrels (still not great, but a start) and permitted the practice of contract brewing, among other things.
According to Baltimore Magazine that “legislation was a hot-button issue when its original version was passed unanimously in response to Guinness’ decision to build a large-scale brewery in Baltimore County.”
And although larger state operations like Flying Dog Brewing still had problems with that bill, after several amendments, many brewers saw it as a decent compromise and a step forward for Maryland’s craft beer industry…
Enter an atrocious new proposal which will be heard in the house on February 23rd.
House bill 1052 seeks to dismantle most of the previous legislation’s advancements and threatens to move Maryland’s small craft beer industry back into the dark ages…
Not only does the new bill overturn Maryland’s still-limited progress, but it also decided to also limit tasting room sample sizes and omits Diageo-owned Guinness from the same restrictions it seeks to re-impose on the state’s craft breweries and their tasting rooms!
This bill smacks of cronyism and of politicians beholding to the private interests that funded their campaigns. And it’s disheartening at best.
Word to Maryland’s legislators…
You want ensure that brewery’s like Flying Dog consider moving their base of operations to greener pastures like Virginia? Then pass this bill…
After all, your lobbyist friends can probably still help you get re-elected.
And never mind that the state’s brewers are currently making a $637.6 million economic impact on Maryland.
Or that Maryland’s brewing industry has generated more than 6,541 jobs…that’s $228.3 million in wages and $53.1 million in state and local tax revenues!
Bottom line, house bill 1052 is a legislative joke, which if you care about the growth of Maryland’s craft beer industry, or about small business at all, needs to be defeated.