A bill that would allow Maryland breweries to sell more beer sounds like a pretty easy sell, but it’s proving to go down hard in Annapolis.
The legislation came about because of Guinness’ plans to open a big new brewery and taproom in Baltimore County — which would be its first in the US. Basically, the brewery is bigger than the craft beer breweries operating in the state and needs a fix to the law so it can sell more beer. Guinness’ parent company and the Brewers Association of Maryland seemed to be onboard. But when a first version passed the House, there were a couple of unexpected items.
According to ABC2, the version of the bill limits the hours of breweries. They could only be open to customers from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Another provision says a taproom can’t sell beer from other brewers — a practice often used by early-stage breweries.
“It will change our ability to have reasonable public hours at the brewery, which will cause us to potentially lay off 5-10 employees,” said Adam Benesch, co-founder of Union Craft Brewing. “Union is considering a significant expansion this summer, though the legislation is forcing them to reevaluate the investment.”
But it appears the source of these changes has yet to be identified. The craft breweries oppose the change, and a Diageo/Guinness spokesman told ABC2 that the company doesn’t like it either.
Sneaking some extra ingredients into the mash can often have good consequences, but it appears this deal could sour. The Senate is next to take up the bill.