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Bill would boost beer brewers' bottom lines


It's American Craft Beer Week, and Sen. Cardin has co-sponsored legislation to support the booming brewery business

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Photo by Tauren Dyson. Customers pack the Bowie Town Center parking lot and stream into DuClaw Brewing Company, a local restaurant with its own brewery in Harve De Grace.

Photo by Tauren Dyson. Customers pack the Bowie Town Center parking lot and stream into DuClaw Brewing Company, a local restaurant with its own brewery in Harve De Grace.

Published on: Thursday, May 16, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

Customers pack the Bowie Town Center parking lot and stream into DuClaw Brewing Company, a local restaurant with its own brewery in Harve De Grace. The bustle at the bar and in the dining area is a testament to how passionate Prince Georgians have become about craft beer.

As the country settles into American Craft Beer Week, an annual celebration of small and independent beer brewers, the industry continues to grow within Maryland, and politicians are beginning to notice.

“Small brewers have been anchors of local communities … Maryland craft brewers,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Senate Small Business committee member. “Maryland craft brewers … create jobs and reinvest their profits back into their local economies.”

To many, microbrews, or boutique beers, known for their aggressive alcohol content, steep price point, and explosive taste, are to the beer world what a Maybach is to the car world.

“Microbeweries, they tend to be a little more daring,” said Matt McGrial, Bowie DuClaw Brewing Company supervisor. “We have 17 different types of beers on tap at various times a year.”

Because of the exploding popularity of microbreweries — currently defined as breweries producing fewer than two million barrels (62 gallons) a year — Cardin and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, have introduced a bipartisan bill that would reduce the tax on small brewers.

Currently, for small breweries, the excise tax is $7 on each the first 60,000 barrels of beer produced annually. The Cardin-Collins Small BREW Act would cut the tax to $3.50 on the first 60,000, after which the tax would jump to $16 for anything under 2 million barrels.

Mike Roy is the brewer at Franklin’s Restaurant and Brewery in Hyattsville. Currently, he is the brewery’s only employee. So Roy needs help and hopes the Small BREW Act will free up some extra cash to bring on new people and equipment.

“We’re trying to boost the economy by helping to create jobs and keep people’s dollars spent locally,” Roy said. “The more dollars that we spend locally … the more local dollars will have an impact on us.”

Roy said Franklin’s produces 600 barrels a year, a paltry number compared to DuClaw and other small breweries. If the Small BREW Act passes, he anticipates he could save $175 a month, or $2,100 annually, providing enough money to purchase a keg washer.

“The federal government,” Cardin said, “needs to be investing in industries that invest in America and create real jobs here at home. With more than 2,400 small and independent breweries currently operating in the US, now is the time to take meaningful action to help them and our economy grow.”

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