The General Assembly on Saturday paved the way for beer giant Guinness to open a tourist-destination brewery in Baltimore County, and for other big breweries across the state to sell significantly more beer in taprooms.
The House of Delegates granted final passage Saturday to a deal reached Friday that writes new liquor laws to accommodate Guinness' proposed $50 million project in Relay and lets so-called "production breweries" such as Flying Dog and Heavy Seas sell four times as many pints in their taprooms each year.
The bill would also allow existing production breweries to keep their taprooms open as late as their county allows. Taprooms at new production breweries would have to close by 10 p.m. nightly.
Microbreweries and farm breweries would not be affected.
Debate over how much beer breweries could sell and how late their taprooms could be open sparked a showdown between beer companies and the liquor wholesalers and retailers who worried such sales would undermine their already heavily regulated business.
The proposed law now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan, who has expressed general support for lifting limits on taproom sales but has not a taken a position on the bill.