Maryland Beer Laws Suck

Baltimore, MD

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot’s Reform on Tap Task Force provides damning evidence about the economic impact of Maryland’s beer legislation. The Economic Impact of the Craft Beer Industry in Maryland report states, “the National Brewers Association, finds that Maryland trails other states, ranking 47th in economic impact, 36th in the number of breweries and 25th in gallons produced per adult aged 21 years and over”. Second,  Kevin Atticks, Executive Director of Maryland Wineries Association, provides many examples of Maryland’s beer laws directly preventing breweries from coming to Maryland.

Reform on Tap Task Force

I remotely witnessed the Reform on Tap Task Force live on October 25th, 2017. Click on  ReformonTap 9th Session to view this Facebook presentation in its entirety. As the Maryland Comptroller’s webpage states, “The task force, chaired by Comptroller Franchot and composed of 40 members representing key stakeholder groups within the beer industry, will perform a comprehensive review of the State’s antiquated laws that govern the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of Maryland craft beer.” The task force was established in response to HB1283, legislation enacted in 2017 using deception and backroom deals which limits taproom hours and increases taproom sales, but requires breweries to buy back their own beer from wholesalers if taproom sales go over 2000 barrels.

Craft Beer Economic Impact

Andrew Schaufele, Director, Bureau of Revenue Estimates, presented a summary of the Economic Impact of the Craft Beer Industry in Maryland to the Task Force. He states, “The economic impact of Maryland’s craft beer industry has not reached its full potential.” Marylanders consume less craft beer (275,000 barrels per year), than Maryland breweries produce (247,000 barrels), outputting $637 million. If Maryland were to produce craft beer at a par to her neighbors, Maryland output would reach over $1 billion. If Maryland achieved Vermont status (the most productive craft beer state), Maryland’s output would exceed $2.3 billion.

As Peter Franchot notes,  “The craft beer industry is one of our state’s most important and fastest growing economic engines. The men and women at the forefront of this dynamic industry are creating good-paying jobs, strengthening local economies and attracting tourists to communities in every corner of our state.”

As Mr. Schaufele states, it is only common sense that drinking Maryland craft beer in Maryland is more economically beneficial to Maryland than drinking out of state beer. As Kevin Atticks attests, Maryland laws are actually discouraging this.

The Huge Sucking Noise

Like 1992 Presidential Candidate, Ross Perot, who predicted NAFTA would make a huge sucking noise as jobs left the county, you can hear Maryland’s beer laws sucking breweries out of our state. Virginia, Kevin Atticks notes, is constantly contacting future and current Maryland breweries, recruiting them to locate in our neighboring state. Kevin Atticks has direct knowledge of two breweries, Stone Brewing and Ballast Point, who both initially selected Maryland locations for their new brewery sites but eventually chose Virginia locations due to restrictive Maryland laws.

Mr. Atticks also noted Flying Dog’s recent postponement of its expansion is also a direct response to the uncertainty of Maryland’s brewery laws. Amanda Yeager of the Baltimore Business Journal says, “Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso said last week that plans to build a production facility and taproom on 32 acres near Frederick Municipal Airport are ‘on permanent hold’ because of regulations passed by the General Assembly.”

Hope for Maryland

There is hope. Craft beer advocate and overall beer rock star, Peter Franchot, is in the Maryland brewers’ corner. Just the creation of his Reform on Tap Task Force is a huge step in the right direction. The buzz created by the task force is extremely popular within the Maryland craft beer community. In fact, 3 Maryland beers have been named in his honor.

Mr. Franchot promises to level the playing field for MD craft brewers. He has already vowed to change the franchise laws that virtually marry breweries to wholesalers for a lifetime. As the final session of the Reform on Tap Task Force meets next month, we are eager to learn more about his proposal to bring Maryland beer out of the dark ages. The Maryland craft beer community is watching with bated breath. 

Thank you, Mr. Franchot!







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *