Baltimore County delegates OK a version of Guinness legislation

Baltimore County delegates OK'd a version of Guinness legislation.

Baltimore County's state delegates on Monday endorsed their own version of legislation to allow Diageo to open a Guinness brewery in Relay.

The delegates voted for a bill that allows all production breweries in the county to gradually increase sales in their on-site taprooms to 4,000 barrels per year — a key request from Diageo. New breweries must close at 10 p.m. nightly, while existing breweries must close at 10 on weeknights and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Baltimore County is home to three production breweries: Key Brewing in Dundalk, DuClaw Brewing in Rosedale and Heavy Seas, which is not far from the proposed Guinness location.

The bill approved by the county's delegates differs significantly from the version approved by the county's senators last week. The senators voted for a bill that would allow only the Guinness brewery to sell up to 4,000 barrels of beer in the taproom, which would close at 10 p.m. nightly.

Meanwhile, there are two versions of a statewide bill pending that would increase the sales cap for all breweries in the state. One of those bills, which has backing from Diageo as well as the Brewers Association of Maryland, will have a public hearing on Thursday.

Production breweries — facilities that mainly brew beer for distribution — are allowed under current state law to sell up to 500 barrels of beer on-site. Diageo estimates that cap would allow the Guinness brewery to sell a pint to only half of the 250,000 to 300,000 projected visitors to its new plant.

Any legislation would need to be agreed to by the House and Senate before the conclusion of the 90-day General Assembly session on April 10 to be sent to the governor for his consideration.

Gov. Larry Hogan has not endorsed any specific bill, but his office has said he supports expanding on-site sales for breweries.

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