Beer festivals brewing in Montgomery -- Gazette.Net


Montgomery County is already home to multiple wine festivals each year but the county now wants to also celebrate beer.

A bill will go before the General Assembly in January to give the county permission to host up to four beer festivals each year.

The legislation is one of nine local bills from Montgomery that seek to change alcohol regulations. The beer festival bill was requested by Delegation Chairwoman Anne R. Kaiser (D-Dist. 14) of Burtonsville on behalf of Montgomery County.

Currently, the county can host wine festivals each year, but not beer fests, said Kathie Durbin, division chief of the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control.

Seven years ago, when the wine festival license was granted by the state, the county also sought the nod for beer festivals.

Somewhere between draft and approval, the word beer was removed, she said.

“Now beer is trending,” Durbin said. “I think there were some folks at the time who were afraid of having a beer festival, afraid it was too high risk, too big and that only big companies would be there.”

But the license the county now seeks to create for beer festivals specifies that the purpose must be to promote Maryland beer.

The bill would allow up to four festivals each year and would require the organization hosting to obtain a license as well as each vendor who serves beer.

Much as the wine festivals held locally, the beer festivals would celebrate local brews and products, Durbin said.

Montgomery is home to several brewers, including Baying Hound Aleworks and Gordon Biersch in Rockville, Growlers in Gaithersburg and Rock Bottom in Bethesda.

More craft breweries are expected to emerge, Durbin said, like Citizens Brewing Co., a craft brewery that Julie Verratti plans to open in Silver Spring next summer.

A sister bill proposed by Del. Sam Arora (D-Dist. 19) of Silver Spring would ease restrictions on microbreweries by allowing tastings and pours without serving food. Under current regulations, only breweries with restaurants may serve their beer on site.