|I wish even regular Naked Fish was coming out this year :(|
|Just a few Maryland breweries within an hour of me, including Full Tilt, Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, Evolution and UNION Craft (photo from Baltimore Magazine)|
The Reform on Tap House Bill 518 was proposed in reference to Maryland's archaic and distributor-friendly laws, and was designed to loosen production and sales regulations on small breweries and their associated tap rooms. The short story is that right now, Maryland restricts tap room sales for small breweries so much so that it's not economically feasible for them to have a tap room. Yet, distributors are so incentivized to sell "big beer" labels (including "craft beer" from breweries who've been acquired by big beer, including labels such as Fordham, Devil's Backbone and Goose Island) that a small brewery's beers are often ignored. Even when they are on the shelves, the distribution system so heavily favors big beer that the smaller brewery beers may sit for weeks or months before getting to the store. For some beer styles, that means a loss of fresh flavors that are important to the beer's profile.
There was a house bill hearing for HB 518 scheduled for February 23, 2018 in Annapolis, where people could sound off about their feelings of relaxing some of the restrictions that have been put in place, and make their voices heard regarding the current law and the concessions it has made for new Maryland transplant, Guinness Brewing, which is actually owned by a British company, Diageo. Diageo also owns Harp, Smithwick's and Kilkenny (among other beers) as well as spirits such as Johnny Walker, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan.
However, just yesterday (February 9), house bill 1052 was introduced by Delegates Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore) and Dereck Davis (D-PG County) that is diametrically opposed to HB 518. In fact, it is even more against small businesses and even more designed to support Guinness. Worse yet, these clearly bought-out politicians scheduled the hearing for HB 1052 at the exact same time as HB 518. Their actions are petty and ignorant, and their bill is anti-business, anti-tourism, anti-farm, when it comes right down to it.
|Image from Naptown Pint: Findings of the Reform on Tap Task Force|
For more detailed and specific information on HB 518 and its bizarro-world counterpart, HB 1052, see those with better words, such as Naptown Pint and Baltimore Brew blogs. You can also go to the Brewers Association of Maryland webpage.
If you are a Maryland resident, please contact your state delegates and senator and let them know you support the small, independent craft breweries of our state, and the associated jobs, farming and tourism dollars that go along with them. Please sign the Reform on Tap petition! If you can attend the HB 518 hearing on February 23 at 1PM, please do so.
If you are not a Maryland resident, please check out the Comptroller's page on how you can support good beer.
Thanks, and prost!