Have you ever wondered why Annapolis, our state’s fair capital city, does not have any craft breweries? After all, Frederick and Baltimore are home to multiple world class craft beer producers. Well, the answer is both simple and amazing: the zoning codes of the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County do not include brewing beer as a permitted use. That means, essentially, there is no building or parcel of land in the entire city or county for which brewing is permitted.
Although, at least as it relates to the County, that may change this year.
This change, if it came, would be thanks in large parts to the efforts of two Maryland brewers — one aspiring and one established — the latter of which who was foreclosed from his first choice of Anne Arundel County and therefore opened his highly successful Jailbreak Brewing (outstanding, by the way) in the more welcoming Howard County instead. Their efforts, and a few receptive local officials, has prompted a proposal to change to the county’s zoning laws to open the door to brewing in the county. As a recent news article indicates, the door is not opening all that wide just yet, but it is a start.
Of course, this serves as an important reminder of how although state laws regarding beer making — be it by production breweries, microbreweries or farm breweries — get a lot of the attention, it is often the minutiae of local zoning ordinances and county alcoholic beverage laws that delineate the ability of people to make, sample, and sell their beer.