ANNAPOLIS — Frederick County is home to multiple breweries, wineries and distilleries — and Del. Ken Kerr wants to include a new alcohol license that would assist those businesses.
Kerr (D-Frederick) aims to include a Class L liquor license in the county, similar to legislation that passed last year in Allegany County. The change allows breweries, distilleries and wineries with event spaces to sell not only their products made on-site, but also samples of craft beverages from other companies and businesses.
Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Brewers’ Association of Maryland, said at the Frederick County delegation’s meeting Friday that his organization would not take a position on Kerr’s proposal until the final language is set. He added, however, that businesses in Allegany County that have used the license have seen benefits.
Monica Pearce, founder of Tenth Ward Distilling Co. in Frederick, said Friday the change would help business, and be a nice addition to a change last year that allowed distilleries like hers to offer on-site consumption.
Sarah Healey, general manager of Milkhouse Brewery near Mount Airy, also said Kerr’s proposal would help, given the remote location of that business. She mentioned a recent festival in Carroll County where attendees tried their beer as well as types of wine.
“We’re kind of out there. There’s not a lot around us ... so having the opportunity to support other alcohol producers and provide other styles … that would give us the opportunity to grow our business,” Pearce said.
Steven Wise, a representative of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association, was not supportive. He said Kerr’s proposal would turn the event spaces into bars and they would compete with bars and restaurants that have worked to establish themselves under current licensing laws.
Wise opposed the change in Allegany County, and he opposes Kerr’s proposal too, he said.
“We would ask you to hit the pause button,” he said.
Del. Carol Krimm (D-Frederick) asked Wise if he could provide any data to show how the law in Allegany County has affected licenses there. Wise responded he would track that information down.
“If they haven’t been affected and they’ve had the license, then what’s the harm,” Krimm said after the meeting regarding restaurants and bars.
The delegation did not act on Kerr’s proposal, as Del. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll) asked the delegation to hold off on voting or acting on any items as a “professional courtesy” to Sens. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Ron Young (D-Frederick), who were caught up in a committee voting session.
Kerr said after the meeting he didn’t believe his proposal would cause breweries, wineries and distilleries to compete with traditional bars and restaurants. They serve different purposes, he said.
“It’s more of a destination of an event, rather than a night out with some friends for a drink,” Kerr said. “If you go to the bar, you don’t get to talk to the guy who made your Miller Lite, your Jameson. But you go to these craft beverage tasting rooms, and you talk to the people who built them, who made them, who crafted them.”
He also believes his proposal would support the local agricultural industry.
“If we can get the local Frederick [County] farmers to start supplying these malting grains ... rather than growing soy [where] the price is set at a global market, they’ll be growing two-row malting barley, and the price will be set at a local level.”