Comptroller tours to support local breweries

Peter Franchot toasts RAR in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE—Comptroller Peter Franchot is on a mission. He has always supported the notion that Maryland should be “open for business,” and this year he is focused on the state’s antiquated beer laws that restrict local craft breweries.

On Tuesday, June 27, the Maryland State Comptroller came to this city to show his support for modernizing the state laws that restrict growth in the boutique brewing businesses.

Unlike all of its neighboring states, Maryland has laws on the books restricting production from breweries depending on the class of license the brewery holds, which is based on the style of establishment. A pub-brewery, the most restrictive type of establishment license, can only produce 2000 barrels per year. A micro-brewery cannot produce more than 22,500 barrels per year, and must have a restaurant affiliated with the establishment.

There is also a license available for a “farm brewery,” which is limited to production of only 15,000 barrels per year, and must be located on a working farm. There are also limits on how much beer customers can purchase for off-premises consumption.
Comptroller Franchot would like to bring Maryland’s laws in line with those of our neighboring states, and remove restriction on production, and brought his campaign to Cambridge to help drive home the point.

“Well, RAR in Cambridge is a wonderful new brewery,” Comptroller Franchot told us, “it’s growing, it’s going to supply jobs and wages. (It has) great products, good fresh beer—Real Ale Revival! People should come down and visit it. I think RAR is part of the renaissance of the Maryland economy, these small businesses that young people love.”

Comptroller Peter Franchot raises his glass to the crowd at RAR Brewing in Cambridge, during his tour to promote his proposed easing of regulations for breweries to promote local expansion.

Small craft brewers are a boon to any town’s financial outlook, Mr. Franchot says. “It’s good for the economy, it’s good for the state’s business reputation, Governor Hogan is supporting it, I’m supportive of it. It’s going to happen—the 30 to 35 year-olds are demanding this kind of beer brewing, and I just think it’s a sign of the future of the economic growth of the state of Maryland. I couldn’t be happier to be here, just at a happy hour shaking hands!”

Joining Mr. Franchot in support of his efforts were his Chief of Staff Len Foxwell, County Council President Ricky Travers, and an enthusiastic crowd of late afternoon happy hours customers. Official speeches were limited to a welcome by co-owner Chris Brohawn and a few remarks by Comptroller Franchot and Mr. Travers.

In speaking to the crowd at RAR, Comptroller Franchot said, “This is exactly what we’re trying to create, all over the state of Maryland, in our wonderful villages and towns and small cities. These kinds of establishments, that J.T. and Chris have created, are exactly what the state of Maryland needs.”

“We are going to open everything up, and we’re going to modernize the state’s beer laws, so that everybody, all around the country, says that Maryland is an appreciative and welcoming state to independent breweries.”

Some appreciative brewers across the state have named their beers in honor of Maryland’s comptroller, in support of his pushing for fairer brewing laws. “I’ve got one named Official Watchdog over in Annapolis, and a couple in Frederick that I’m going to tomorrow. I think it’s a bigger honor than getting an honorary degree in college!”

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (left_ shares a beer with J.T. Merryweather, co-owner of RAR Brewing in Cambridge, during the comptroller’s tour in support of opening up brewery laws in the state of Maryland.

When asked what the taste profile would be on a Franchot beer, the comptroller said, “Very fresh, very dry, it would be delicious, and very affordable, something that people would want to come back for!”

On a serious note, Comptroller Franchot expressed his pride in the work he’s doing trying to improve the state climate for boutique breweries. “I have managed, around the state, to bring together a coalition of Donald Trump supporters, and Hillary Clinton supporters, because they are united behind beer. They want beer to be produced in Maryland. And we need beer sometimes when we read about Washington.”

“Maryland is going to go from being one of the worst states in the country for independent breweries, to being the best state. We’re going to do that because the public wants it, it’s good for business, good for the economy, and it’s going to happen hopefully after the next legislative session when we submit our recommendations.”

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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