Partly through conscious policymaking and partly through inertia, Frederick County has become central to Maryland’s craft beverage industry.
Now, the county seeks to expand that industry with a guide designed to help the owners of new breweries, distilleries and wineries navigate some of the complexities such businesses often encounter.
The county wanted to create an easy how-to guide with suggestions, steps and resources for owners of both large and small craft beverage operations, said Katie Albaugh, an agriculture business development specialist with the Frederick County Office of Economic Development.
“This is really for everyone. It doesn’t matter what size you are,” Albaugh said.
The document includes a list of tips, such as the importance of understanding local government codes, zoning and regulations, and whom to consult for getting various licenses and approvals.
It also contains definitions of various types of craft beverage businesses and terms, such as brewery, farm brewery tasting room, and limited distillery license.
The last page has information on regulations for food trucks.
“We’ve seen that this industry really wants to have food trucks” at its locations, Albaugh said.
Jim Steinhardt, who operates Steinhardt Brewing out of his garage in Braddock Heights, said he would like to see more clarity on what is and isn’t allowed as he looks to expand his business.
Steinhardt’s is a small operation, producing about three barrels a week of Belgian beers, sours, stouts and IPAs.
He could have used information on how to obtain various permits and licenses when he was getting started, he said.
Monica Pearce, of Tenth Ward Distillery in Frederick, said there are many small challenges that new owners face, including getting state and federal licenses, and adhering to county and city requirements.
Having all of that information in one place would have been helpful, she said.
County officials hope the guide will help expand an already thriving business in the county.
Frederick County is home to more than 30 wineries, breweries and distilleries, including Maryland’s largest craft brewery, Flying Dog, and the largest winery, Linganore Winecellars, according to a county release.
The Frederick County Council passed a law in May that makes it easier for farms to open tasting rooms for their breweries, wineries and distilleries.
Among other features, the law adds farm distilleries and distillery tasting rooms as permitted uses in the county’s agricultural and resource conservation zones, and allows tasting rooms smaller than 1,500 square feet to bypass site plan approval from the Frederick County Planning Commission.
All projects would still have to apply for building permits and meet health and safety standards.
The county currently has 14 wineries, 12 breweries and four distilleries.
Wineries have grown and flourished in the county for years, Albaugh said.
Meanwhile, each new brewery and winery drives further growth by drawing more tourism and adding to a community whose members support one another, she said.
“These industries work together so well,” Albaugh said.
Tenth Ward Distillery opened in July 2016, and Pearce said Frederick County has done a good job of making itself a destination for businesses like hers.
“Frederick has become, I think, sort of a little hub,” she said.
To get a copy of the guide on “How to Start a Winery, Brewery, or Distillery,” contact the county’s economic development office at email@example.com or call 301-600-1058.