As we discussed as this week’s MDG meeting, a battle over brewery laws erupted during the ’17 session, and continues via the Comptroller’s Reform On Tap task force. The discussion has centered around two things:
- A perception by the licensed beverage wholesaler/retailer groups that brewer taprooms are “stealing customers” from traditional retailers/bars/taverns;
- A concern by the Brewers Assn of Maryland about how HB1283 (a bill that had some pros and more cons) was passed through the House with no input from local brewers.
MDG will keep monitoring the task force and the results thereof, which will likely recommend reforms to beer manufacturing, distribution and sale, laying the groundwork for broader industry reforms.
See below for an excerpt from a related/recent article in the Baltimore Business Journal.
Gov. Hogan lets brewery bill become law while voicing concerns
Gov. Larry Hogan recognizes the business potential of having Guinness open a brewery and taproom in Baltimore County, but he is urging legislators to take a deeper look at brewery legislation going forward.
House Bill 1283, which raises barrel limits for brewery taprooms but brings with it additional limitations, was passed by the General Assembly in April. Hogan let it become law by not signing the bill last week to recognize both the positives of Guinness and the negative impacts on the rest of the Maryland craft brewers.
In a letter to House Speaker Michael E. Busch last Friday, Hogan said he wants Diageo Beer Co. USA, the parent company of Guinness, to be able to open its business, which is why he did not veto the bill. But other issues remain that could have a negative effect on the entire industry in the state.
“This legislation clears the way for Diageo to open a brewery in Baltimore County for their Guinness brand beer, which is a welcome economic development project,” Hogan said in the letter. “However, House Bill 1283 contains several troubling provisions, which will more than likely prove detrimental to Maryland’s burgeoning craft beer industry — hampering the economic growth, job creation and tax revenue it produces.”