You never really know what the old-timey State of Maryland is going to do next. That seems to be the philosophy of Baltimore’s Flying Dog Brewing Co.’s Chief Executive Jim Carus, who is trepidatious at best about the future of Maryland’s brewing laws. Carus recently stated that the brewing brand has placed its expansion plans on hold because of legislation regarding state brewery regulations. Here’s a solid example of what Carus is talking about: Maryland House Bill 1283.
Earlier this year, House Bill 1283 looked to increase the cap on how much Maryland Class 5 breweries would have been able to brew annually for on-site consumption from 500 to 2,000/3,000 barrels (that last 1,000 bbls had to be sold to and re-bought back from a wholesaler), but it also mandated that breweries close by 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on weekends. Plus, they could have only served beer made on premises — beer fermented and brewed entirely at the brewery. Wait, what? Does any of that make sense? Not to Flying Dog.
From the Baltimore Sun:
Through a spokesman, the Frederick-based company declined to clarify which specific regulations led to the decision.
Last year [CBB note: pretty sure it was this year], a protracted debate between breweries — including Diageo, the conglomerate bringing a Guinness brewery to Relay — and state lawmakers over operating hours, production capabilities and other regulations played out during the General Assembly. A bill with compromises to both sides was eventually passed, though brewers still expressed displeasure with having to make concessions. The new legislation increased the amount of beer breweries are able to sell in their on-site taprooms, but taproom operating hours at new breweries were reduced.
Soon after the debate, Comptroller Peter Franchot created a task force to examine and improve the state’s laws regarding beer.
Apparently, none of that has convinced Flying Dog, which relocated to Maryland from Colorado in 2006. Last year, the company celebrated its 25th year as the largest producer of craft beer in Maryland. To keep up with that growth, Flying Dog had been discussing expansion plans in public for some time. A farm brewery in Lucketts, Va., called Farmworks Brewery, was one such idea, but that plan was replaced when Frederick officials approved the sale of just under 32 acres of farmland near Frederick Municipal Airport for $2.55 million to Flying Dog. The new brewery was envisioned as being five times the size of the current Flying Dog location — festooned with a clamshell amphitheater for concerts — and the ability to produce up to 8 million cases of beer annually.
But not so fast. Back to the Baltimore Sun:
“The primary goal of [the expansion] project was to ensure that Flying Dog will have an uninterrupted supply of beer as it continues to grow,” Caruso said in a statement. “Because of regulatory and legislative issues that relate to all breweries in Maryland, Flying Dog has put that project on permanent hold and is developing other viable options to ensure that it has an uninterrupted supply of beer for its markets into the future.”
It should also be noted that Caruso did mention Flying Dog may soon be getting back into the distilling business. Check out the whole article right here.