Thoughts and Concerns on New Law to Bring Breweries to Anne Arundel County

As you may know there is a bill in the works that will make it much easier for craft breweries to open in Anne Arundel County. I’ve read through the bill a few times, and I think it’s a good piece of legislation for craft beer in AA County, but I also have some concerns that I’ve sent to Councilman Walker and Councilman Trumbauer, the councilmen that introduced the bill.

You can voice your support or concern for the bill tomorrow night, February 17, at 7 p.m., at a public hearing at the Arundel Center located at 44 Calvert Street in Annapolis. I’m sure it will be rescheduled if the snow storm cancels the hearing.

As for my concerns, you can read them below:

1. This bill requires farm breweries to be on a farm of at least 10 acres.

I know of a planned farm brewery in AA County that doesn’t have 10 acres, and this bill would kill that plan. The owner just bought the property a few months ago, and is getting some other projects up and running before getting the brewery operational. The owner will be forced to abandon the planned brewery if this bill passes as written, and there may be other farm breweries in the planning stages that will have to go back to the drawing board.

The Maryland law that allows farm breweries doesn’t require a farm to have 10 acres. This is a requirement that Anne Arundel County is choosing to implement itself. I’m sure the county has some good intentions behind this rule, but I’m still waiting to hear back on what they’re trying to achieve.

2. Another requirement for farm breweries will be to produce 25% of the ingredients used to brew their beer.

It’s currently unclear if this applies to all ingredients in the beer, one specific type of ingredient, or if it’s 25% of all ingredients used in a calendar year. For example, will a brewery be able to use grain from any malt producer so long as they grow 25% of their own hops, or will 25% of all ingredients need to be produced by the farm?

This is another example of something that Maryland doesn’t require, but AA County won’t be alone in enacting stricter requirements than the state. Frederick County for example requires that the majority of any grain used in a farm brewery’s beer be grown by that farm. I think the Frederick law is more restrictive than what AA County proposes, but any requirement like this needs to be clearly defined.

3. The bill doesn’t specify if the 25% farm grown ingredient requirement will be measured by volume or by weight.

This may seem like a trivial thing, but there is a huge difference in the weight of wet hops and dry hops. Wet hops can only be used during a short window of time, but measuring by weight or by volume could have a huge impact on a farm brewery’s annual operations depending on how the 25% ingredient rule is implemented.

I have some other thoughts on the bill, but I’m waiting to hear back from the councilmen. Stay tuned!
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5 comments

  1. Hello, I am considering a farm brewery venture here in Anne Arundel County and I came across your post. You have such legitimate questions about the bill and I am wondering if you ever received the answers. We have the land, 50 acres, but are not sure about the 25% requirements. Did anyone get back to you about your questions? Any information would be greatly appreciated! Thank You!

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    • Hi Carol, I’m sorry to take so long to respond but I got distracted with the holidays. I took a job in Europe and am currently living in Germany. I did not get a chance to discuss clarifying these issues before I left, but email me your contact information at Nathan@thebeerspy.com and I will either get you in touch with the county or start the conversation back up myself.

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