A new Frederick farm brewery has opened, Prospect Point. It is a site to behold, and a beer to be shared!
Welcoming a new brewery into Maryland is always a joy. I must say the opening of Prospect Point was particularly delightful due to the delays the family faced trying to open their doors to the public. On Friday May 20, 2022, the Carroll family welcomed dignitaries and guests to their grand opening/ribbon cutting ceremony and it was a terrific success.
Prospect Point farm brewery is situated just outside of Frederick with picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The inviting foothills and hop fields surround visitors with a tantalizing breeze and spacious outdoor seating for 500. The taproom’s tall tin celling, industrial imagery and copious tables provide another appealing venue for craft beer lovers to sample the offerings.
The road to this well planned and executed brewery was long in coming. Somewhere around 2014+- I was working on the Beer in Maryland book and searching through ProBrewer for something I can no longer recall when I came across Dan Carroll’s post asking for insights into opening a nano-brewery on his hop farm. The Carroll family owns Pleasant Valley Hop Farm. I was quite excited to see another Farm brewery in Frederick open, particularly on the south side of town.
Fortunately, Dan and his father had a veteran farm brewer on their side- Tom Barse of Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm. He offered stout guidance and the concept eventually formulated into a plan. Unfortunately, COVID reared its spiky little head and delayed the project. As a non-essential business, permits were put on terminal hold, and once those were finally granted supply chain and labor shortage issues wrecked its own special havoc. Fast forward to May 20, 2022 and you realize it was worth the protracted wait, making it all the sweeter for the Mike, Dan, Nick and their family!
The brewery houses a 10 bbl brewhouse and four 10 bbl fermenters. There is plenty of room for expansion and that is the goal. The beer is solid and well-received by the patrons. The pilsner was bright and clean, the hazy offered a nuanced citrus that was enchanting, balanced and easily drinkable -perhaps too much so!
I suggest a road trip- and don’t forget the kids and the dogs, as they are welcome to this family friendly venue. Food trucks are on site on weekends, and there is ample parking. Visit their Facebook page for hours and events!
In more good news, Tom Barse opened at fresh market at Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm. When you are headed to the farm for beer, bring a cooler and pick up farm fresh beef, eggs, lamb greens and other delights! It has conveniently become a one stop shop for the freshest of everything!
In other expansion news, Crooked Crab’s 8,000+ sf expansion is moving right along with floor drains dug and new fermenters delivered. Follow the progress on their Facebook page. They keep turning out one great beer after another, and with this expansion there will be a lot more to quench your thirst.
Saints Row Brewing has completed their move from Rockville to Gaithersburg this past week. The move provides a larger facility not only for brewing but for the opening of their boutique coffee company, Hallowed Grounds Coffee Co. Hmmm…coffee and beer? I think that is a marriage made in Heaven!
A look a B.C. Brewery and Jim Wagner’s newest venture with Rich Mak.
December 4, 2018
Tuesday evening I was afforded the opportunity to sit down with Jim Wagner of B.C. Brewery and talk about life and beer and history. As an integral part of my journey to document the legacy of Maryland brewers I spent the day with him when he was still brewmaster at DuClaw. It wasn’t too long after they moved operations to the Yellow Brick Road facility in Rosedale. It was a memorable day. Wagner was and still is one of the kindest people I have ever met- genuine and completely open hearted. The (new) DuClaw facility was grand and each unfinished space whispered a promise of continued growth and recognition for the creativity behind the malted beverages- that were suddenly produced on a much larger scale than the first wee brewpub could have imagined.
I always wondered if and when Wagner would strike out on his own. I didn’t have to wait long. After nearly two decades as brewmaster, Wagner left DuClaw in the summer of 2017 to become an ‘international man of leisure’. That lasted for some months. Wagner needed time to figure out what was next and rediscover what is was to truly enjoy life again. Once he was ready, he began charting a path back to brewing- on his own terms. After a lot of ’misses’ he eventually found a partner- Rich Mak, on ProBrewer. They spoke for hours to discover if they had chemistry that could not only open a brewery together but sustain a strong working relationship well into the future. It turned out to be a very good match with both coming to the quick realization they were both in it for the beer. They chose to open in Hunt Valley- one of the few brewery deserts in Baltimore County. The industrial space was perfect- it literally screams BREWERY with its high ceilings and readily expandable space. Located adjacent to a light rail stop and within walking distance from hotels, businesses, a college extension campus, and I-83, it could not be more perfectly situated.
Jim Wagner standing next to 7 bbl brewhouse at B.C. Brewery
Both Wagner and Mak are ‘hands on’. Together they literally built B.C. Brewery- the cooler, the bar, the tables, the lights, the boiler, and the brewhouse. The brewery has a 7 bbl brewhouse, along with a 2 bbl brewhouse (that they fortunately do not have to use), and 7bbl fermenters to hold the liquid gold. In addition to great beer, B.C. Brewery also has great food, courtesy of Dave Magdeburger, an incredibly talented chef with a gift for creating delicious food that skillfully complements the beer. In fact he was wheeling a whole hog (yes literally) out to smoke while I was there. Another very unique offering of the brewery comes from Beth Vita, a young craft brewer forced to redirect her passion for beer into gluten free cider because of a celiac diagnosis. Vita is incredibly talented at making dry, flavorful ciders and will soon expand into crafting gluten free beers once a dedicated mill is added to the brewery. She is a gifted and focused member of the B.C. Brewery team and I look forward to sampling the gluten free offerings once they become available.
Cider however is not the most unique thing about this brewery- Table Tap is. Much to Wagner’s surprise, Mak’s idea of self-serve beer taps has charted a new course of sorts for the brewery. Self-serve taps are relatively new, but not completely. A few restaurants in Maryland have had self-service wine taps for years. The transition to beer was inevitable. It is a simple concept- grab a glass, enter your card, and chose how much of a pour you desire (½ ounce or more) of a particular beer or cider. Quite frankly I too was surprised at how very successful this concept was- so successful in fact they had to install more. Table Tap accounts for upwards of 75% of their sales. Beertenders are happy not to bother with samples, and customers can choose from an assortment of beers without waiting for help. That frees patrons to take their time in deciding which beer to order as a full pour. It is a win for everyone- and customers are quite happy to get back to socializing or playing corn hole. Yes corn hole is located inside the brewery so that weather is never a factor!
A view to the brewery with the Table Tap self-serve taps on the wall to the right.
What was Wagner’s hesitation with Table Tap? People. It is also why he left DuClaw. He missed the brewpub atmosphere where he could interact with consumers on a daily basis, explaining the style and the choice of ingredients, and the inspiration behind each brew. He has plenty of that at B.C. Brewery and the best part (for them) is they don’t distribute. One of the most stressful aspects of his time at the DuClaw Rosedale facility was dealing with distribution. I could go on and on about franchise laws in Maryland and how absurd they are for smaller breweries- but you all have heard the mantra by now. It is sufficient to say that between distributor hassles and shelf-space being at a premium Wagner and Mak have found a path to success without it. Table Tap is a big part of that. They also don’t have to sacrifice the human interaction- the social component that makes every day so special to be successful.
Wagner is back to really enjoying his work life- interacting with his team and all of the people coming in and out of the brewery to sample his brews, play corn hole and yes- ask lots of questions about their favorite beer. Wagner and Mak are also keeping it local. They are enjoying the resurgence of maltsters in the region and they have been using Proximity Malt (on the Eastern Shore) for many of the beers. Wagner has also delved into Paw Paws- the largest native fruit in North America, grown right here in Maryland at Deep Run Paw Paw Orchard. The most recent incorporation is his Paw Paw Hazy IPA- clean, juicy and crisp, with a surprising depth of flavor. In addition, local collaborations are planned with his former brew mates Kurt Krol and Brandon Miller, among others. The vitality in Wagner is once again evident, and it permeates every facet of the brewery, and every beer produced. Life. Beer. Repeat.
Currently B.C. Brewery has a total 24 beers/ciders on tap. Wagner has named 90% of them- most from fishing trips with his friends. I urge you to head on over- ask questions, and spend the day enjoying a one of a kind Maryland brewery. You will not be disappointed!
The 2018 Baltimore Craft Beer Festival has come and gone once again. Earlier in the week the weather looked to be of great concern as a tempest raged Friday night. By Saturday morning the worst of the storm was over, having left a grim reminder of man’s inability to conquer nature. As dawn broke, the clouds parted and the sun peaked through, offering a crisp albeit windy day on the waterfront for craft beer lovers, and their furry friends.
Brad and his 3 year old Leonberger Meike enjoying the festivities.
The check-in line was long, but moved quickly and efficiently uniting festival goers with their wrist bands and glasses in minutes. A cornucopia of Maryland craft breweries were spread across the park with host of styles to sample. Accompanying them were a variety of food trucks offering a little something for everyone. There were a handful of non-craft beer vendors on hand selling nuts, portraits, tchotchkes, and the like, but they were few and far between- this truly was a craft beer festival…not a festival with craft beer. There is a distinct difference between the two. One of the more intriguing vendors included Valencia glass-blowing, a mobile glass blower in the tradition of the Italian glass blowers of Venice, on the island of Murano. The demonstrations were mesmerizing, and the audience rapt. This certainly kept festival goers sampling at that end of the complex, and headed home with hand blown ornaments, vases, and gifts.
Glass blowing demonstration with Founder Phillip Valencia using his mobile furnace.
There were some notable beers to sample while watching the demonstrations like the Brewer’s Art7 Beauties locally sourced with Dark Cloud malt, or Lot 54 a blonde ale from Inverness Brewing, and Cult Classic’s take on a NEIPA using only Mosaic hops. The breweries were well spaced to manage the throngs and close enough to help one another keep the tents on the ground on the extremely windy side of the park. Make no mistake, the gusts did not hinder attendance, and certainly helped to keep the beer cooled.
Volker Stewart founder of The Brewer’s Art toasting 7 Beauties on cask.
Co-Founders Ray and Sandy Frank of the new Baltimore farm brewery Inverness Brewing with Comptroller and Industry Ally Peter Franchot, and Kevin Atticks, Director of the Brewer’s Association of Maryland and Grow & Fortify, toasting another successful year for Maryland Craft Breweries.
On the other side of the complex, festival goers were equally enchanted by the live bands that graced the stage. They weren’t just good- they were fantastic. Get Steady was spot on not only with the musical selection, but the dulcet tones of their lead singer that kept everyone singing along. The majority of brewers were located at this end of the park offering the expected styles, and what I like to call ‘adventure styles’. Most craft beer goers are willing to sample any beer in hopes of discovering something new and wonderful to tempt and tantalize the palate. There was quite a bit to choose from in this regard. A personal favorite came from Waverly Brewing’s own Gregory Lee in the form of Horni-Issac a play on the origins of this delightful ale. Greg got back to his Norse roots embracing a Hornindal yeast which fully complemented the hop profile across the palate in a beautiful marriage of its Norse and English origins.
Roy and Greg of Waverly Brewing in front toasting Horni-Isaac.
No matter where you started, you ended with great craft beer and got to know a collection of newly opened breweries and breweries in planning. I was thrilled to see True Respite, Cult Classic, Balt County Brewing, Checkerspot, Crooked Crab, Brawling Bear, and Inverness Brewing– all newly opened in 2018 pouring at the festival. The breweries in planning included Mobtown, opening in Canton in 2019; Ironweed opening in Ocean City in 2019; and an absolutely delightful surprise- Ten Eyck a completely women owned and operated brewery opening in Queen Anne’s County in 2019.
Bailey and Brendan O’Leary, Co-Founders of True Respite Brewing.
The usual suspects that we all know and love were also in attendance including Union Craft, Heavy Seas, Manor Hill, Jailbreak, Monocacy, Oliver, Flying Dog and a slew of names like Denizens that every beer drinker in Maryland has tasted, and probably has in their beer fridge right now! A complete list of participating breweries is available through the Brewer’s Association of Maryland. Every participating brewery had at least one (if not several) high-quality, well-crafted brews to offer- a promise (of sorts) that a drive to their brewery would not disappoint. They also served as inspiration to the myriad homebrewers contributing to the Nepenthe homebrewing event of just what is possible if you have the drive and the patience to make it happen…. A lesson for us all.
All in all it was a brilliant day on the waterfront sampling Maryland craft beer. It also got me thinking about a few things. Recently I have read articles touting the demise of beer festivals using words like ‘ubiquitous’, and ‘tired’. Hmm… No- not at all. I humbly agree to disagree. Craft beer festival like this one (very well planned and executed) provide the PERFECT place to gain an audience and a consumer base. This is where a beer drinker will be introduced to a new brewery, or an old brewery with a new offering. This is where it begins, or in some cases where the flame is reignited and we fall in love all over again with a brewery or a beer we let slip away for a time. There is no better place to bring the family, the dog, or a friend and spend the day in a scenic park enjoying a brisk fall day discovering what talented artisans we have in our midst.
This weekend I had the distinct privilege of meeting the team behind Charles County’s very first brewery- Patuxent Brewing Company. This brand new brewery isn’t open yet but things are on track for 2019. In fact they were hesitant to even order their equipment due to the tangle of zoning issues and inspection shenanigans, along with a host of other things I will get to shortly.
At the heart of Patuxent Brewing are the founders, husband and wife Davie and Kendra Feaster, and their business manager- the third member of this perfect trio- Tranice Watts. I can state simply that they are a cohesive, symbiotic unit, and could not be more perfectly suited to work together. They are inseparable ‘peas in a pod’ according to Kendra. Tranice and Davie have known each other since they both attended Crossland High School. They met in welding class- yes welding class. Tranice was mistakenly scheduled in the class, while Davie actually signed up for it, but the friendship was instant and Tranice never looked back. Welding and race cars forged a lasting partnership that has stood the test of time and relocations, and has served them both well building a brewery. Kendra Feaster, with her Master’s degree in Marketing and a photographic eye is a veritable “Jill of all trades” and Davie’s wife of four years.
They all offer critical elements to the collaboration. Kendra brings her marketing expertise while Davie brings his passion and experience as a homebrewer in search of bold flavor. He also has experience in both the retail and wholesale sectors of the three tier system leaving him uniquely suited to navigate the monopolistic, restrictive, and archaic alcohol regulatory system in place in Maryland. Tranice in addition to her extraordinary business acumen brings a background in environmental science to help make the brewery as green as possible. They are all in balance, whether constructing the brewery tables and bar, or reminding one another to keep pushing forward despite the obstacles- and there have been plenty. The underlying component to all of this is their deep friendship and their unwavering faith. Through the most trying times they always go back to the understanding that this is exactly what they are supposed to be doing, and despite the challenges- God is navigating, lighting the path forward.
Right to Left: Kendra Feaster, Tranice Watts, and Davie Feaster of Patuxent Brewing Company
Those hurdles have been numerous and extremely daunting. Charles County has been incredibly supportive of Patuxent Brewing and has worked with Kendra, Davie and Tranice to make sure it opens. The difficulty comes from the complete and total lack of experience, regulations, and zoning for breweries- quite simply because Charles County has never had one before. They are quite frankly guinea pigs, doing the hard work so that other breweries might follow suit. It is one heck of a gamble that Kendra and Davie have sunk their life savings into. The learning curve for them and for the County is large. Patuxent did their due diligence, with Tranice studying brewery business models extensively, and Kendra and Davie working with the Brewers Association of Maryland’s director Kevin Atticks, and President Cindy Mullikin, while getting up to speed on their boards, commissioners, and elected officials. They have also found the entire brewing community extremely welcoming and helpful. Davie has a standing offer from Calvert Brewing (among others) to gain practical experience on their industrial system in preparation for working on his own.
Despite all of this they still have no brewing equipment in place. Inspections have hindered them- again due to the inexperience of the inspectors. A prime example of this could be seen with Patuxent’s cold storage inspection. Davie installed foam board on the walls. This was approved by the fire marshal, but he was forced to remove it when a clearly inexperienced local inspector told him only drywall or fiberglass was allowed on the walls. Davie and the fire marshal argued that drywall or fiberglass would mold and foam board was standard protocol for cold storage-to no avail. It has been just these sorts of things that provide a lesson for everyone involved- unfortunately at the expense of the Feasters.
Another rather incredible series of delays came from the Smallwood Village Zoning Board, run by Meredith Management. Zoning has taken several months- in this case not only because of the lack of zoning in place for this type of manufacturing (breweries), but something far more disconcerting. The zoning board immediately challenged Patuxent with “concerns” about what type of crowd they wanted to bring in and the music they would play…. Yes Patuxent Brewing Company is 100% minority owned- a rarity in and of itself, but becoming more commonplace with each passing year. The insinuation by the board was (disappointingly) clear. Unfortunately the county could not help move things along because they had no actual representatives on the Smallwood Village Zoning Board. Therefore the delays piled up and enormous restrictions were placed upon Patuxent once the final language was agreed to. The good news is that they have final approval- which is what the county was waiting for to help push toward the finish line. The greatest restrictions include limiting capacity to 45 patrons- despite fire code allowing 75+, and they are required to operate as a Nano brewery producing no more than 200 barrels per year. This is not a recipe for profitability without additional events and streams of income. They are looking at the parking lot as an opportunity to expand capacity for events like festivals, yoga, single mingles, and a host of other wonderful ideas.
This is where I need to share with you Patuxent Brewing’s take on Charles County and being a 100% minority owned business. Kendra, Davie and Tranice absolutely LOVE Charles County- it is their home. They love their community- which is diverse and eclectic, and inviting regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, class or gender. Tranice truly believes there is NO better place to raise a family than Charles County. Davie speaks with great fondness about his home, the support from neighbors, and the idyllic days of fishing on the Patuxent River; while Kendra tells of how everyone in the community has reached out to welcome Patuxent Brewing with open arms. Many partnerships have already been constructed from restaurants (and Huntington Golf Club) carrying their beers, to planned fundraisers with the Humane society and various religious groups. The genuine affection they have for their home, county, and the people within is palpable. Everyone in Waldorf is family to them. The Feasters would not have tied their entire financial future to a brewery in Waldorf if that were not the case.
The other component to this is how much they want to give back to this incredible region that has been so generous to them. They view themselves as stakeholders responsible for acting as good stewards in their community. They want to bring people together over a beer and get them to actually talk- like good neighbors and friends do. They recognize and embrace their role, as their brewing predecessors in Maryland have always done, to build strong communities. When it comes to being one of the only 100% minority owned breweries in the nation they spoke with like mind. Kendra summed it up decisively,
“I don’t want this to be a black thing or a white thing…it’s a beer thing.”
They want to be known for the quality of the beer they produce and promise NEVER to sacrifice quality for quantity. A promise I have no doubt they will keep. A recent trip to the Fresh Fest in Pittsburgh also brought in accolades- particularly for the King’s Wife, Davie’s New England IPA made in honor of Kendra. It also brought comradery from other minority brewers that experienced challenges and discrimination when getting started in the industry.
After all of this I asked them what they might do differently if they had it to do all over again. The response was one that comes from knowing now just what it was they didn’t know when they began:
Hire a lawyer from day one to help navigate many of the intricacies, from inspections to zoning to permitting, and just about everything in between.
Find a guide for opening a brewery. Well there really isn’t one yet….other than attending a brewery start up class at Seibel. Fear not Kendra is probably going to write one geared specifically for Charles County, Maryland! The breweries that come after Patuxent should thank her- better yet immortalize her!
Networking- establishing connections on the various boards, and with elected officials and commissioners to facilitate the process. You have to know people as it is much easier to work with existing relationships to get things done than start fresh with strangers.
So what comes next? Ordering equipment of course! Davie is looking for a 1 or 3 barrel system to get started, along with 3 barrel fermenters. They will partner with local farms, not only giving spent grain to farmers as feed, but purchasing local hops and malt as it becomes available. They have partnered with Martin Prouxl, Agriculture Business Development Manager hired by Charles County Economic Development Department to promote local agriculture, to assist them in this endeavor. They already have a regular bevy of food trucks lined up once the taproom opens. They will have 8 taps with 4 dedicated to year round flagship beers, and 4 to seasonal and experimental offerings. Davie strikes a balance between what is expected- porter, IPA, NEIPA, cream ale, with the unexpected- sweet potato bourbon, or peanut butter bacon beer among other exciting and bold flavor profiles. The sweet potato bourbon beer was a collaborative effort with local Blue Dyer distillery and comes as no surprise. After chatting with Davie I learned very quickly that he is a man that loves FLAVOR! It is also no surprise that if he had his druthers, he would work on a collaboration beer with Sam Calgione of Dogfish Head to see just how far they could push the flavor envelope together.
The brewery offers ample parking, and includes a children’s play area that will have a dedicated monitor. They want it to be a family place where everyone is welcome, so much so they sacrificed their only office space for the play room. The brewery also has two VIPs that will almost always be on premises, Cinnamon and Spice. They are the Feasters wee puppies that are so undeniably sweet your heart is guaranteed to melt. They take after Kendra and Davie, two of the nicest people I have ever had the honor to meet.
Eventually, perhaps a few years from now, they will need to relocate to expand operations beyond 200 barrels and the current limited seating capacity. It will still be located in Charles County, most likely not too far from where they are located now.
Today they are just excited to get the beer flowing, and build a lasting legacy. What is the legacy they want to leave?
In one hundred years, Davie wants people to say, “They were all about their community, and the King’s Wife is still here.”
For Kendra, “They were unstoppable. They had an idea and stuck with it no matter what, and it is still bearing fruit.”
Perhaps both of these visions of their future are best described by the writing on taproom wall when the three faced some of their most difficult days,
“Your only limit is your MIND!!”
If you are interested in helping build their legacy please check out their fundraiser:
The first meeting of the new State Alcohol Regulation Task Force (created by the passage of HB 1316) was held in the Economic Matters Committee Hearing Room on September 12, 2018. I realize it has taken me a week to weigh in. In part I wanted to digest what transpired, but I also wanted to conduct a little more research. This provided some clarity as well as a bit more confusion with regard to the direction this task force is headed. It also forced me to speculate about an underlying, hidden agenda.
I was relieved to see members of all three tiers represented on the task force. The standard protocols were followed beginning with an historical jaunt through Maryland’s 3 tier system, followed by a breakdown of exactly how alcohol is regulated and by whom. A brief comparison of Maryland’s regulatory system with other states was also done and this was when things began to get interesting. Challenges to the methodology of the comparison came quickly from one panelist- David Jernigan PhD.
A little background research on Jernigan is quite revealing.
Jernigan is best known for his action-research approach to the issue of alcohol advertising, marketing, and promotion and its influence on young people…He testifies regularly at city, state, and national levels around alcohol availability and taxation. He trains advocates around the world using the best evidence.1
A quick glance at his list of publications and one quickly fathoms the purpose of his research- restructuring alcohol regulation with a goal to limit access through complete state control and high taxation. Yes this is called Temperance. He veers away from Prohibition…but not really. Jernigan was the architect of the increased alcohol tax in Maryland a few years back, and he is back now trying to go further. His acolytes are widespread including Raimee Eck, current President of the Maryland Public Health Association, who also testified and even chose to use the word ‘temperance’ in her slide presentation.
Eck also wrote an Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun November 29, 2017 challenging Reform on Tap, while completely misconstruing its point…”Comptroller Franchot’s focus on increasing alcohol production, sales, and consumption without a review of the health consequences and costs is misguided.” Clearly she did not grasp the point of HB 518- which was not to increase consumption but replace the purchase of out of state beer with Maryland manufactured beer.
Some important points:
1) Is alcohol consumption increasing or decreasing? It depends upon who you ask. Jernigan says it’s up, while most other data sets suggest it’s down.
2) Jernigan chose not to weigh vital statistics from Maryland, but instead chose CDC statistics which enabled him to count far more deaths as ‘attributable’ to alcohol. Jernigan was challenged by Webster Ye of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Ye noted that alcohol related deaths had not increased, but held steady. Ye also noted the decrease in deaths overall, whereas Jernigan said death rates were on the rise in Maryland.
3) Senator Conway also weighed in with questions on causation, particularly when Jernigan stated that the vast number of homicides in Baltimore City were attributable to alcohol. Jernigan stated it was difficult to disentangle gangs and illicit drugs from alcohol in homicides rates. Jernigan stated that 80% of homicides are committed while drinking. Conway recognized along with most of us that homicides have other causal factors that could be addressed- entirely unrelated to alcohol. It begins with job training and educational opportunities in economically disadvantaged areas to provide options other than gangs and criminal activity for people to not only survive but build a future. That discussion is for another day however. People commit crimes for a host of reasons and ignoring those other causal factors in deference to alcohol will not solve those problems.
4) Jernigan and Eck could not truly differentiate craft beer from other beer, spirits or wine. When he was asked by Shelby Watson of Robin Hill Winery what was the alcohol 12-20 years olds were drinking and where they were getting it, Jernigan answered that ‘cheap’ was what they targeted in straw purchases, while the younger ones were stealing only the ‘good stuff’ from home. Wine however wasn’t really a factor in this age group. ‘Cheap’ and craft beer are not synonymous and what Jernigan did not chose to point out was that the cheap beer is in large majority supplied by the monopolistic mega brewers- you know who I am referring to. They also made the obvious mistake of stating that craft beers are 7-9%, and consumers don’t seem to comprehend they are drinking higher ABV. All of this completely disregards a large segment of the craft beer market that produces session beers, and the exceptional labelling (as required by the TTB) of the ABV, coupled with the work craft breweries in educating the populace on the ABV. The paucity of authentic craft beer specific statistics and documentation was deeply concerning.
5) Jernigan also stated that the recent proliferation in retail outlets has been ignored and is responsible for a 4% increase in violent crime. President Mullikin asked if he had the statistical carve out for the breweries. He did not, and reverted to the stat that off-premise sales are responsible for twice the number of violent crimes as on-premise sales.
To quote Mark Twain, “Lies, damn lies and statistics…”
6) Jernigan’s testimony nearly word for word, could be taken from an article in The Lancet, titled “Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016”. This article
a. Lays alcohol at the feet the most of society’s ills;
b. Completely disregards any health benefits of alcohol as negated by the harm;
c. And adds the best method to eradicate it:
“The most effective and cost-effective means to reduce alcohol-related harms are to reduce affordability through taxation or price regulation, including setting a minimum price per unit (MUP), closely followed by marketing regulation, and restrictions on the physical availability of alcohol.”
As a point of note, I too believe we should work constructively to educate young and old alike on the dangers of binge drinking, drinking and driving, and health and societal related complications of alcohol. I am also neither an epidemiologist, nor a statistician. I do however recognize cherry picking data to persuade an audience.
Jernigan and Eck certainly had a rapt audience in Miller and Kramer who both seemed to have pre-planned some of their questions and commentary. Kramer’s reference to the Governing article he read was one that Jernigan himself was a contributor to. Miller was eager for “simple fixes at the regulatory level” to stop the alcohol related deaths, which alluded to higher alcohol taxes and state control of production, distribution, and sales. Miller also commented, almost verbatim to Jernigan that he was extremely concerned with the whittling away of the alcohol regulatory framework each legislative session.
Folks, we have been down this road before. Nearly two centuries ago a Temperance movement began with a belief it would cure all of the ills of society. It took decades, but when it finally found support it quickly moved from Temperance to Prohibition. I don’t have to tell you how that turned out but I will remind you of a few key takeaways from the failed experiment. Prohibition did not solve society’s ills. Try as you might you cannot regulate morality. It has been tried- repeatedly and failed. You can legislate and make things illegal, but people will still act in the manner they choose. During Prohibition alcohol was still produced, distributed, and consumed- most of it at much greater potency than anything being consumed before the Volstead Act. The loss of state, local and federal revenues was catastrophic to the economies, coupled with incredible job loss. Closing the breweries, wineries, and distilleries put a fair percentage of people out of work but it also severely harmed the 200 affiliated industries that relied upon their business from glass manufacturers to painters, leaving many more without wages. This was supported in 1926 when the federal government completed its inquest into the causes of unemployment. It was directly attributable to Prohibition, not automation as the dry party proclaimed. If you think crime and unemployment are problematic now- enact Prohibition.
I am not suggesting this task force will currently push for Prohibition, but they are well on their way based upon week 1. For now I expect higher alcohol taxes and a move toward complete state control- only one of these will likely gain traction in the next few sessions. We will need to wait to see what happens next month.
Today is Labor Day, a day in which we honor the achievements of American workers. In 1884 Congress passed an act marking the first Monday in September Labor Day. Since then we have witnessed various incarnations of how exactly to celebrate this national holiday. Parades, once grand affairs for a multitude of eager spectators, have waned in recent decades while BBQs and beach trips seem to supplant large-scale organized festivities for most. It is the last hurrah of summer before children return to school and fall sets in.
The exact origins of Labor Day are a bit controversial, as two different labor organizers (both named McGuire- one a machinist, the other a carpenter) are named as founders. What is significant is that the origins of Labor Day, regardless of who is responsible arose from the 19th century unions organized to protect and defend workers from harsh conditions, little pay, and unfair practices. Breweries were also participants in the formation of unions, although it was a bit more complicated than it was with many other labor unions.
The National Union of Brewers was founded right here in Baltimore in 1886. The Brewery Worker was published for its members on a regular basis. The name was eventually changed to reflect all brewery laborers, not just the brewers. Despite this, not all of the members felt their interests were well served and they chose to split off and form their own separate unions. Coopers were one of the highest paid trades of the time, and they often felt at odds with the goals and practices of the brewery worker’s union. Where brewers invited new technologies- coopers often shunned such advances as compromising their tradecraft. This in large part was the impetus for the separation, and they were quickly joined by coopers from the distilling and wine industries all operating with a common goal.
What were conditions like for brewery workers when Labor Day became a national holiday? That answer truly depends on location, and ownership. Many of the breweries in the 19th century were owned by immigrants that came to America to flee persecution, compulsory military service, and famine. Many of these immigrants were German, some Irish, with a smattering of others in between. Many brewery owners paid for the passage of their workers from Bremen to Baltimore, and housed them in their homes with their families. They worked on average 12 hours a day (sometimes more) with Sunday hours extremely limited for worship, rest, and fun. Conditions were typical of the time- manual labor in often sweltering or frigid temperatures depending upon the season. The upside of this was a regular supply of beer and meals, and a roof over their heads. Beyond that the working environment was quite dependent upon the individual brewery owner.
There are many stories of Baltimore brewery owners engaged in equal opportunity employment practices long before there was an EEOC. There is also documentation of Maryland brewery owners paying for medical care for workers that were ill, or injured on the job. In some cases if workers could not be healed, owners offered a type of supplemental stipend for a period of time until that worker or his family could find other gainful employment. Make no mistake- not all brewery owners were this considerate of the best interests of their employees. There are many tales of vicious proprietors taking whips to their staff, or other such deviant practices to intimidate laborers into greater productivity, thus spawning the need for the rise of unions.
What has changed since the 19th century? There is no longer a Brewery Workers Union as it folded into the Teamsters Union in the 1960s. In fact those working in most of the local craft breweries we visit today are not affiliated with a union at all. In the modern world, conditions still vary by brewery and yes it is still sweltering in summer, and freezing in winter as is the nature of the industry. Fortunately we are seeing greater diversity in plants across the country with far better working conditions- despite the often extreme temperatures.
One thing has not changed however and that is the incredible effort that brewery workers put into making this luscious nectar of the Gods that we call beer. The pride, the craftsmanship, and the end result are a testament to those that Labor for us, for themselves, and all those that came before them in this historic industry.
Whatever you may be doing today take a moment and raise your glass to the American Brewery Worker past and present on this Labor Day.
Brewers Association of Maryland
6247 Falls Road, Suite G
Baltimore, MD 21209
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARYLAND CRAFT BEER COMPETITION TAKES PLACE SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2018
The annual Maryland Craft Beer Competition is coming up, winners announced at REVIVE!
(BALTIMORE, MD, AUGUST 10, 2018) – Each summer Maryland breweries enter their best beer to be judged in the Maryland Craft Beer Competition. This year nearly 200 beers, lagers, and ales will be submitted by brewers seeking to earn the title of “Best of Show” and to bring the coveted Comptroller’s Cup back to their brewery. Dozens of beer styles are represented in this competition and medalists will be announced publicly to attendees of REVIVE! Divine Food + Divine Beer, a Brewers Association of Maryland event taking place this August.
Calvert Brewing Company in Upper Marlboro serves as the host venue for the 2018 Maryland Craft Beer Competition. Local craft beer enthusiast and BJCP Master Judge Phil Sides helped with event organization and heads up the judging efforts. Event organizers will converge on the brewery later this week to sort and label all of the competition entries. “There are a lot of moving parts for a competition like this,” says Kelly Dudeck of the Brewers Association of Maryland. “From registration to judging, the goal is to ensure that all entries are properly labeled and appropriately handled.”
Awards for the Maryland Comptroller’s Cup will be publicly announced at REVIVE!, an upcoming food and beer pairing event taking place at the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City on Saturday, August 25, 2018. This tasting event showcases gold-medal breweries from the 2017 Maryland Craft Beer Competition and pairs those beers with delicious fare prepared by handpicked Maryland chefs. Tickets to REVIVE! are currently on sale and are only available in advance.
The Brewers Association of Maryland (BAM), founded in 1996, is the non-profit trade association of Maryland brewing companies. The mission of BAM is to grow, promote and protect the Maryland craft beer industry.
It has been a while folks, thanks for bearing with me! Last night after 8 straight hours of demolition work (yes swinging away with a sledge hammer) exhausted, thirsty, and owing our dear friend some beer for his assistance we trekked over to the new Guinness brewery. It happens to be 10 minutes from my house and on the way to the airport- to which my friend was headed.
I knew what to expect having seen the drawings, but conceptualizing it and seeing it in reality was something different. For anyone that has travelled to Dublin, Ireland to the original St. James Gate Brewery there was a certain level of expectation. The Open Gate Brewery can handle the comparison as there are similarities, particularly the grand scale and the grasp of the brewery’s long history. The Open Gate Brewery has a very ‘new world’ feel- as it should. It was crisp and modern yet gently cradled nuances of the old world Dublin original. It was a beautiful meld of both traditions on an expansive campus. In the upcoming months more will be completed to add to the experience- and that is exactly what it was.
As a band played on the terrace, I chose air conditioning. I was pleased to see the usual suspects on tap- Guinness Stout, Foreign Extra Stout, and the like. What I chose to partake of was the Crosslands Pale Ale made with local ingredients- specifically Dark Cloud Malthouse malt, and Black Locust hops. It was exactly what I hoped it would be- refreshing, delicious, and well- crafted. Although the restaurant was not yet open, small plates were offered at the bar, along with copious refills of much needed water. My only disappointment was in not being able to partake of any Golden Ale series (experimental beers) that had been available in the temporary taproom.
I was also happy to see quite a few of my craft beer connoisseur friends- some now happily employed at Open Gate Brewery. Although I was a bit mind-muddled from the day, I was able to recognize a few things that I wanted to share with all of you. First and foremost I am very aware of the controversy surrounding the entry of the new Guinness Brewery into Maryland. I want to put that aside for now as all of you know I will NEVER stop fighting for our craft breweries here in Maryland and a proper change to the archaic laws that bind them. I want to offer another perspective today.
The Open Gate Brewery was extremely well run and organized. The staff was incredibly diligent, genuinely smiling and kind- despite the volume of folks near closing. Yes, I can absolutely see people flying into BWI airport to experience the Guinness Brewery without having to cross the pond- although if you get the chance to travel to Ireland always take it! I personally do not think this is a bad thing. Beer tourism absolutely brings people into your brewery- large or small. This country is filled with craft beer travelers and our fine Maryland breweries already consistently lure beercationers year after year. I believe this brewery will add to those numbers- not only at the Guinness Brewery- but at each and every Maryland Brewery. With the availability of beer bus tours one merely has to step off of the airplane, drop their luggage at the hotel, and hop on a bus to sample more than 80 delicious Maryland breweries. It is ideal really, and everyone wins.
The other observation that I feel VERY strongly about is this: Crosslands Pale Ale is really good for Maryland. It brings national attention to the quality of both the hops grown and the malt made here in the Free State. I think this is outstanding. I could not be more proud of our local farmers and maltsters, and excited at the doors this may open for them. Even folks that don’t regularly drink craft beer will get a chance to sample the quality of our local ingredients. Not only will this urge them on to sample more from our diverse breweries, it will inspire more investment in planting malting grains (that save the Chesapeake Bay) and expansive malting operations to supply our breweries.
Sure I could go on about jobs, and the boost to the economy at this point… but I know you already have that figured out. Whatever your feelings, I respect them. I wanted you to know I am rooting for our Maryland breweries, farmers, and maltsters-each and every one of them.
I am sure most if not all of you are quite familiar with Naptown Pintcast. I had the distinct honor and privilege to be invited to participate in Liz Murphy’s Pintcast with none other than Cindy Mullikin, owner of Mully’s Brewery and the President of the Brewer’s Association of Maryland. The format involved drinking beer, while discussing beer. One of my favorite things to do!
As you can imagine there was quite a bit to chat about. Cindy Mullikin as many of you know is the very first female President of BAM, and she is responsible for some fabulous award winning beer coming out her plant in Prince Frederick. Cindy hosted us, and these incredible brews are of course on tap and in our glasses during this engaging conversation on women in beer. The Hazy III as most of you know is a brilliant NEIPA that is a surprising 10%, and a trip tp Prince Frederick will definitely be worth your while for the host of beers from the Shucker Stout to the Patuxent Pale- of which we sampled our share!
A HUGE thank you to the incomparable Liz Murphy for her time and talents, and quite frankly the invitation to be a part of her legacy of pint casts! Here is the link to the pintcast- Enjoy!
Be sure to keep up with Liz in all her amazing beer travels and conversations at Naptown Pint.
Since the repeal of Prohibition, federal and state guidelines governing the alcohol industry have been very strict. The most stringent surround ‘Tied-House’ laws. In a nutshell before Prohibition breweries in all states would offer up fully functioning taverns/bars/etc. to willing tavern keepers. The catch was that once they received the fully functional bar but all they were allowed to sell was the beer from the brewery that owned it. That was anti-competitive, particularly when you add in the aggressive price fixing, and additional inducements to lure patrons away from other bars (and hence other brewery’s offerings). The general consensus was that this needed to be banned once Prohibition was lifted in the spirit of fair competition and limiting the corruption involved in the alcohol industry. It clearly gave undue advantage to the big breweries with the exceedingly deep pockets like Budweiser, et al to literally control the beer market.
Ownership in bars and taverns is not the only game in town however when it comes to inducements to leverage the market in favor of a particular brewery as there are myriad methods. In Massachusetts AB-InBev was investigated for giving away over $1 million in enticements to retail establishments in the form of coolers and draught lines for prime shelf placement and committed draft lines. Although the MA Alcohol Control Board determined there was insufficient evidence to charge them, which was not the outcome in California where they did face consequences for their actions. AB-InBev was forced to pay a $400,000 fine for violation of pay-to-play laws when their reps furnished refrigeration systems, televisions, and draught lines for 34 retailers. AB stated that they were just ‘leasing’ the equipment and it wasn’t an inducement to prioritize sales of their beers. They promised re-training of all sales representatives to avoid such confusion in the future. Hmm….confusion is it?
AB-InBev also got into trouble in Washington State in 2016 when they engaged in Tied-House violations when they paid for concert venues in which AB products were exclusively sold. It does not stop there however, in 2016 AB-InBev agreed to pay $6 million to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for anti-trust violations involving- you guessed it, pay-to-play practices, this time in India. The issue here is that a $400,000 or $1.6 million fine is a drop in the bucket for the mega-monopoly that is AB-InBev and it is not a deterrent against these pervasive pay-to-play practices.
Other high profile breweries engaged in these illicit practices and were also fined. This month (May, 2018) Warsteiner Importers Agency, Inc. agreed to pay $900,000 for Tied-House, Commercial Bribery and Exclusive Outlet violations that placed, or potentially placed the retailer’s independence at risk. Warsteiner paid for draught lines, and sponsored events where Warsteiner beers were exclusively carried.2
This is not however strictly a macro-brewery violation. Recently Craft Beer Guild LLC, a wholesaler who distributes more than 200 craft brands throughout Massachusetts and the Northeast paid bars $120,000 over a two year period (2013-2014) for tap handle placement. The Guild admitted to paying kickbacks up to $2000 per tap handle and up to $20,000 for committed lines. They were already forced to pay the TTB (Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) $750,000 in fines for another, separate violation.
Southern Glazer’s, a Miami based wine and spirits distributor demonstrated that pay-to-play was not in any way restricted to the brewing industry. They were fined $3.5 million by the New York State Liquor Authority last year for schemes involving cash, gifts, and credit card swipes (large expenses paid through Southern Glazer’s expense account), among a host of other preferential placement schemes.
This problem is also not limited to manufacturers and wholesalers. There are many stories of bar owners with their hands out for that flat screen television, or a new draught system and they are more than happy to prioritize tap lines in kind. For others it isn’t the flat screen or direct cash, but instead they receive a reduction in the total beer bill in exchange for tap placement- and in many states this is legal. It is something called an accumulation credit. The translation is: if a bar buys a certain number of kegs of a certain brand, they distributor will credit them back the cost of a fair percentage of those kegs.1
What is perhaps more shocking is that not everyone sees this as a problem. A recent article in FoodDrink International argued in favor of the erosion of Tied-House statutes enabling for example manufacturers of alcoholic beverages in some states to hold ownership of retail licenses to operate retail outlets on production premises. I would argue this is more of a carve-out specifically for taprooms which serves as a brand building necessity for small breweries to gain an audience. A more intriguing analysis of the ‘evils’ of the Tied-House laws comes from the Midwest- Wisconsin to be precise. The Tied-House law is so restrictive that a restaurateur Justin Aprahamian had to open his craft brewery in Illinois because the laws in Wisconsin prevented him from holding any ownership in both a retail establishment and a production facility. Logic dictates that a brewer would like to sell his hand crafted beer in his own restaurant but Wisconsin law firmly stands against such an act as an unacceptable integration of the three-tier-system.
There is yet one more aspect to delve into and perhaps it is more significant in many ways when applied to craft alcoholic beverage producers- advertising. There are numerous federal and state restrictions linked to alcohol advertising. Beers cannot be advertised in a way that confuses brands, promises health benefits, disparages another brand, targets children, or makes promises it cannot deliver. These seem like pretty common sense rules. Many states go a step further- like Missouri where alcoholic beverages cannot be advertised for a discounted price outside of the retail premises, cannot be advertised below the retailer’s actual cost, and requires manufacturers to exclude retail pricing in all advertisements while including multiple unrelated retailers in the ad. Most states are like California and prohibit manufacturers from giving rebates or kickbacks to retailers, or paying a retailer for advertising. Again this all seems to be under the guise of common sense.
As a comparative tool let us briefly delve into Maryland history and take a gander at Queen City Brewing Company. Post-Prohibition, Queen City and Cumberland were THE major breweries and employers in Cumberland. Their brews were a staple of bars and package stores across western Maryland, into southwestern Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The brewery salespeople and the retail establishments knew each other well. By the 1950s every package store in the region was suddenly flush with massive advertising displays of Budweiser. To top it off the displays were prominently placed where Queen City and Cumberland products once sat. There were plenty of giveaways along with the six packs of Budweiser that were far cheaper. As a regional brewery with limited tchotchkes, and a far smaller advertising budget- there was no wat to compete. It didn’t matter that the six packs of bud were in 10 ounce or 12 ounce cans instead of pints, consumers were enjoying the bells and whistles- as were the bars that began to carry more macro brewed beer than regional beer. When was the last time you drank an Old German or an Old Export? Chances are you either weren’t alive when it was still on the market, or you were too young to drink it. Although the Queen City and Cumberland merged, they still could not survive the macro brewery advertising and closed down in the 1970’s. This is a reminder that many of the laws that are so bothersome today were put in place to protect regional breweries and level the playing field- advertising was just one facet of that.
There is no question that advertising has changed over the past few decades particularly with the advent of social media. Should we adapt to this- yes. Does that mean we throw out the rule book completely and start over? Not necessarily. There is absolutely no doubt that pay-to-play is happening in almost every state of the union whether it is dedicated tap lines, prime retail shelf space, sponsorship of certain events, or outright bribery as already outlined. Granted it is also not something happening only at the macro level. Must craft breweries- or their distributors pay-to-play to garner shelf space and sales? Ideally no- particularly when we think about the role of social media when it comes to advertising craft beer.
Ponder this for a moment, the whittling away of the Tied-House and pay-to play prohibitions may serve smaller craft alcohol manufacturers in the interim, but it is setting up a terrible precedent for the future that monopolistic breweries and wholesalers will take advantage of, and I wager that they already are. I will quote Craft Beer Professor Daniel Croxall,
“Without these laws, the market would turn into a free-for-all for those with the deepest pockets. Of course international monoliths would take every advantage to squeeze out pesky independent brewers who keep taking market share—dare I say even pay bribes to retailers? And as I have pointed out before, many state three-tier systems and accompanying Tied-House regulations are under attack through sophisticated lobbying efforts, legal challenges, and even through circumventing the laws in questionable/illegal ways. Are there problems with the three-tier system? You bet. Do the benefits outweigh the problems? That depends on if you favor consumer choice, an even playing field, and good old independently brewed beer in all its glorious iterations.”
So where do we go from here? Each state is witnessing a battle brewing against restrictive Prohibition-era legislation that inherently favors monopolistic breweries over local craft. Some laws -like the franchise law imposed upon small breweries deserve to be challenged and overturned. This will help with the levelling of the playing field and engender a greater ability for craft breweries to compete in the market. State by state many of these statutes and regulations can be revised, removed, or renegotiated to give craft brewers a fighting chance, while leaving certain protections in place for all three tiers. Other laws however, deserve a much greater level of scrutiny and attention to the long term implications and should be examined without opening a Pandora ’s Box that would certainly incite a bloodbath with the removal of Tied-House laws en masse thus spelling an end to our independent craft brewers. Beer for Thought