State’s top alcohol regulator proposes reforms for craft breweries

Comptroller Peter Franchot unveiling his proposals at Denizens. Photo by David Lay.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, the state’s chief alcohol regulator, announced a package of legislation that would bring major reforms to the state’s craft breweries.

The measures were announced during an event held Monday at Denizens Brewing Company. According to a press release, the legislative package, if passed, would:

  • Remove all limits on beer production, taproom sales and take-home sales
  • Repeal the “buy-back “ provision that requires brewers to purchase their beer from distributors at a marked-up cost if they exceed the 2,000-barrel limit on taproom sales
  • Lift unnecessary restrictions for take-home sales
  • Guarantee the issuance of Class B or D beer licenses to microbreweries on request
  • Let local jurisdictions set guidelines for taproom hours
  • Allow smaller brewers to self-distribute
  • Eliminate franchise law requirements, and
  • Remove restrictions on contract brewing that inhibits start-up businesses.

“We simply cannot ignore the fact that our laws and regulatory framework have stood in the way of the limitless potential of Maryland’s craft beer industry,” Franchot said.

The proposed reforms reflect the work of the comptroller’s “Reform On Tap” Task Force formed in April 2017. The task force was chaired by Franchot and included 40 members from key stakeholder groups within the beer industry. The group was charged with undertaking a comprehensive review of the state’s laws that govern the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of Maryland craft beer.

“Comptroller Franchot’s proposed legislation will hit the gas pedal on the independent craft beer industry. I see it as building on the work done by Montgomery County’s Nighttime Economy Taskforce in 2013 and ’14,” said Julie Verrati, Denizens’ cofounder and director of business development, in an email responding to the Source. “This bill is the logical next step in breaking down arcane barriers on the beer industry. This is a good thing for small businesses and consumers alike in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, and the state as whole.”

According to the Bureau of Revenue estimates, the craft brewing industry in Maryland had an overall economic impact of $802.7 million, supporting or creating 6,541 jobs in 2016. The state’s craft breweries produced 247,000 barrels of beer.

A copy of the comptroller’s presentation is available online.

Mike Diegel

Co-Founder/Editor at Source of the Spring
Mike Diegel, a founding member of Source of the Spring, is a Silver Spring advocate who has been appointed by the county executive to several committees and task forces. He currently is a member of the Silver Spring Arts & Entertainment District Advisory Committee. His background is in journalism and he earned a bachelor of arts in communications from McDaniel College. He is self-employed as a communications consultant and is an active volunteer with Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue. He has lived for more than 20 years in Northwood/Four Corners with his wife Trish and multiple Great Pyrenees dogs. He is better known around Silver Spring as the Guy with the Big White Dogs.
State’s top alcohol regulator proposes reforms for craft breweries