Md. microbrewery ready to take advantage of relaxed law

WASHINGTON – A team of soon-to-be beer barons is celebrating a change in Maryland law that will give them more flexibility as they plan to open a microbrewery and taproom in Montgomery County.

Emily Bruno, one of the partners in the Denizens Brewing Company, says now that Maryland lawmakers did away with a requirement that brewers have a restaurant license in order to sell pints on the premises, they can pursue their ultimate goal: opening a microbrewery with a tasting room.

Bruno says Denizens went ahead and got the restaurant license just in case. But with the passage of Senate Bill 310, she and her partners will have more options.

Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to sign the bill.

Bruno welcomes the change in the law, saying the previous requirement that brewers to operate as restaurants gave the company pause.

“That was a challenge because we’re not going into the restaurant business, we’re going into the brewing business.”

Still, Bruno says she and her partners were passionate about seeing their dream through and with a restaurant license in hand, “we are on track to open our brewery, no matter what, this summer.”

Bruno says they’ve even selected the brews they’ll offer.

“We’ll be doing a Bohemian pilsner, a porter and a rye IPA as our three flagship beers.”

And there are plans to “offer food in different formats,” Bruno says.

At one point there could be food trucks, at another, light fare would be offered.

“We’ll be exploring all those options.”

Bruno says the operators of Denizens want more opportunities for more craft beer operations in Montgomery County. She disagrees with critics who say the county is anti-business, saying she and her partners had a lot of support at every turn. But she’s not letting up on lobbying on behalf of the business.

“We need to take the craft beer industry more seriously because it is a driver of local development and something that can have a multiplier effect outside of our location.”

Denizens will open in a 7,500-square-foot space on the corner of East West Highway and Georgia Avenue.

The General Assembly session ends on Monday.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @kateryanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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