Legislation often has a long tail. The head (read: focus) of a state bill or act (learn the difference here) can often be a distraction from what the entire piece of proposed legislation really enacts into law. This long tail is currently at work in Maryland. House Bill 1283 will increase the cap on how much Maryland Class 5 breweries will be able to brew annually for on-site consumption from 500 to 2,000/3,000 barrels (that last 1,000 bbls has to be sold to and re-bought back from a wholesaler), but it’s also mandating that breweries close by 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on weekends. Plus, they can only serve beer made on premises — beer “fermented and brewed entirely at the brewery.”
Wait, what? Why?
Because Class 5 breweries (read exactly what that is right here) should function primarily as a manufacturing facility or so thinks the Maryland House of Representatives. From an article on Delmarvanow.com:
In the economic matters session, Del. Talmadge Branch, D-45-Baltimore City, one of 12 sponsors of the bill, described its purpose as putting breweries back in their place in the manufacturing system, prohibiting them from functioning as bars.
“Currently some of these are open at times of bars, which I think is quite improper,” Branch said.
“What I’ve found is they did actually operate as a bar,” Branch said. “What I found was a very active bar, people eating all kinds of food, and of course, drinking a lot of beer. Nobody was taking tours.”
If you listen closely, you can actually hear monocles cracking when reading those quotes out loud. Branch and other members of the Maryland House apparently think that breweries should feel more like manufacturing plants in which fun and multifaceted business acumen should be outlawed. I suppose we should punish growing breweries for their ability to diversify their businesses onsite. Why not? It’s not like making a brewery an entertainment destination is one of the key growth differentiators in the industry right now, but Branch and friends seem more concerned about stifling businesses than helping them with House Bill 1283 (just read everything the bill does below).
Now, dig these two hilarious tidbits:
1. This bill is in big contention to Guinness announcing a $50 million Class 5 destination brewery that will open in Relay, Md. The bill should deter other breweries coming into the state. Great job, everyone.
2. Oddly enough, this is only for Class 5 breweries. From the same article:
Delegate Chris Adams, a sponsor of the bill who represents Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester and Wicomico counties, said the bill reaffirms class 5 breweries’ place in the Maryland economic tier system.
“This was a compromise, and it’s important to note it is only class 5 breweries who will be affected,” Adams said. “And even then, they can still apply for a class 7 or class 8 license.”
Man, this scheme really seems set up for someone to make more money — and those folks aren’t the breweries. Note: There are 30 Class 5 breweries in Maryland. Also, the bill is being mulled over in the Maryland Senate. Also also, read this solid article from the Brewers Association of Maryland. Then, visit www.mdelect.net to find out the name and contact info of your Senator, if you live in Maryland. Then then, call or write those busters!
A brief summary of House Bill 1283 (via the Brewers Association):
H.B. 1283 repeals the authority of a Class 5 brewery to serve free beer samples, although a brewery may continue to sell beer for on-premises consumption under a Class D beer license which entitles the brewery to sell beer brewed at the brewery under its own trade name. The bill also specifies (1) that a brewery may not sell beer for off-premises consumption in a keg and (2) the hours during which a brewery may exercise the privileges of the Class 5 brewery license and a Class D beer license.