Hop Bines at Manor Hill Brewing in Howard County

Hops growing at Manor Hill Brewing in Howard County, Maryland

If you need an indication of how quickly time flies, chew on this: We’re only a couple of weeks shy of the one year anniversary of the Anne Arundel County Council’s passing of Bill No. 8-15. As a refresher, this spunky piece of legislation paved the way for production-scale breweries in our neck of the woods. But as I mentioned last year, there were some concerns around the part of the bill pertaining to farm breweries.

More specifically, a lack of clarity around this:

“The facility shall be located on a farm of at least 10 acres, and the farm shall produce at least 25% of the grain, hops or other natural ingredients, excluding water, that is used to brew the beer.”

Part of the romance of farm breweries (like Manor Hill Brewing or Milkhouse at Stillpoint Farm) is that you’re drinking what the brewers are growing in their own proverbial backyard. So to have a stipulation within this bill addressing the mandatory inclusion of a farm brewer’s own homegrown stash, at least to some degree, makes total sense. But for many people, that little piece of language was confusing.

Do they mean 25 percent of each individual ingredient or 25 percent of the sum of all natural ingredients – excluding water – used?

Well, if you’re looking to start your own farm brewery in the area, you can breathe a sigh of relief. I’ve confirmed with the Council the intent of language is to stipulate the use of 25 percent of the sum of all natural ingredients used, and not 25 percent per ingredient, which would have been extremely prohibitive.

And for those of you still unhappy about the 10-acre stipulation, rest assured that breweries aren’t being singled out. Wineries are held to the same standard, per the County Code:

anne-arundel-county-farm-breweries

I’ll be exploring farm breweries in more detail in the coming months, but for today, this should be a nice little bit of news. Now if only some farm breweries would get going around here…