Laura Hayes
Laura Hayes

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The Maryland House of Delegates passed a new bill (HB1283) that’s a blow to breweries. While it does raise the cap on the amount of beer a brewery can sell in its taproom from 500 to 2,000 barrels, it cuts operating hours from 12 a.m. or 2 a.m. (depending on the brewery) to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends.

The bill also restricts beer sold in the taproom to beer produced at the brewery, meaning breweries can’t give props to fellow brewers by selling their beer too. They can’t sell collaboration brews, either. This provision makes entering the market extremely difficult for start-up breweries.

HB 1283 lands just a few months after Guinness announced that it would be spending about $50 million to open a brewery in Baltimore County.

While Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring will not be affected because it’s a Class 7 brewery, and the legislation regulates Class 5 breweries, it has long been active in state policy. Co-owner Julie Verratti has issued the following statement because she believes the bill, “sets a dangerous precedent and any damage to a local brewery is damage to the whole industry.” It reads:

“Bill HB 1283 will be detrimental to local Maryland craft breweries if passed without amendments. This legislation will cause brewery closures, lay-offs, stop start-ups in their tracks, and thwart expansions across the state. We all want Guinness to come to Maryland, but it needs to be done in a way that does not simultaneously harm the many local craft breweries who have built the beer industry in this state.

The two specific amendments we seek are:

1. Increase the hours in the bill to 10 p.m. Sun-Thurs and 12 a.m. Fri & Sat—which is still a concession from current hours; and

2. Maintain brewery operations regarding contract brewing.”

Local beer blog, DC Beer is encouraging Maryland residents to call their state senators today, and even provided a script on Twitter.