2 Beer Guys Blog

Welcome to the 2 Beer Guys Blog! Here, you will be able to read our stories and adventures as we travel through the world of craft beer.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Maryland Brewers pushing to change laws

With the rising popularity of craft beer, there is an increasing pressure to change local and state laws. Maryland is a prime example. Small craft breweries are sticking their neck out and saying that the current laws are ancient and they are hurting their business.

In summary, all beer must be sold through a distributor before reaching the end consumer. The smaller distributors are just a blip on the radar and the larger breweries get all of the attention. Hopefully changes will come soon.


Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!


Local breweries hope a proposed law will help them sell more beer outside their bars and restaurants.

Frederick's Barley and Hops Grill & Microbrewery, and Brewer's Alley Restaurant and Brewery stand to benefit from the law, which would allow them to self-distribute a certain amount of beer, rather than hire a distributor.

The owners said they've run into trouble because they brew such a small amount, it's not worth it to the distributors to spend a lot of time marketing, selling and stocking their beer.

So they hope to self-distribute until their beer becomes more established and they brew enough to interest a distributor.

Delegate Sue Hecht is sponsoring the bill, which she says is similar to a bill allowing small wineries the same opportunity. All of Frederick's state lawmakers are supporting the bill as co-sponsors.

"If you allow these microbreweries to be viable and allow these microbreweries to self-distribute and grow, it will create more business for the distributors," Hecht said.

The bill was previously introduced by Delegate Paul Stull, but withdrawn as brewers tried to work with distributors and a similar wine bill was debated.

Gary Brooks, operations manager of Barley and Hops, owns a similar brewery in West Virginia where state laws are different. He's been able to self-distribute and plans to brew 6,000 barrels of beer this year.

By contrast, he brewed only 837 barrels in Frederick for Maryland distribution. Each barrel is 31 gallons, or roughly 330 bottles.

"In Maryland, it would give us the opportunity to get our product out on the shelves," Brooks said.

Both breweries sell their beer to Harry Grove Stadium, but have had difficulty restocking on busy weekends because they have to work through the distributing companies.

They said they'd like to continue to sell to the stadium, and expand to local restaurants or golf courses. They would also be able to sell beer at craft beer festivals across the state.

As drafted, the bill would allow breweries to sell up to 5,000 barrels of beer directly to retailers. If they wanted to distribute more, they would turn those sales back over to a distributor.

Phil Bowers, president of Brewer's Alley Restaurant, said he'd like to handle the marketing while the beer is still becoming known.

"What we would like to do is to be able to grow the brand and then hand it over to the distributor," Bowers said.

Both breweries produce six types of beer, as well as seasonal brews.

They said business has taken off in the past few years as craft beer has become more popular.

"People are starting to learn more about craft beer. It's got a lot more flavor to it," Brooks said. "They are looking for a better beer, a more flavorful beer."

Link to article.


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