Meanwhile, as the stuff continues to fly over their controversial decision to discontinue Wild Goose beers, Flying Dog Ales has taken a move towards another controversy surrounding the Frederick brewery: reopening the famous bar in the front hall, which had been pouring samples for folks before and after the brewery's tours since early Frederick Brewing days, but has been closed most of 2010 for "renovations."
Astute fans knew the "renovations" line was a ruse. Rumors had floated about for some time that a patron had over-partaken of the free samples, and had been subsequently arrested or been in an auto accident and then brought suit against the brewery. Anyone who had seen folks who treated the brewery tours as an open bar to drink liberally in suburban Frederick on weekend afternoons could see that this was almost inevitably going to bite not only Flying Dog, but any other brewery that offered samples--of which Clipper City is one.
Young & Hungry blog reports that Flying Dog has seemingly found a.......... well, I'll leave it to you to decide whether it's a loophole, a crafty reading of the rules, or a ruse:
This winter, the award-winning local brewery will resume public tours and beer sampling on Saturdays, thanks to some creative interpretation of the meaning of the words "tour" and "beer" in the following part of Article 2B Section 2-206 of the Maryland state law about brewery licenses:Whether this line of reasoning is accepted or results in a legal sledgehammer against the brewery will have to be seen. Meanwhile, however, both Flying Dog and Clipper City/Heavy Seas, along with even a few legislators and Liquor Control Board officials, have been discretely working behind the scenes to effect changes in current legislation, of which brewery samples are only one aspect:
A licensee may serve up to 6 ounces for a sample of beer brewed at the licensed premises to anyone who has taken a tour of the brewery, if that person is of legal drinking age.The ingenious plan is to break up the regular, pre-fuzz era Flying Dog tour into small visits to different parts of the brewery. Visitors receive a token for each "tour" they complete, which they can then redeem for a six-ounce sample of beer in the tap room. Similarly, the definition of the word "beer" can be interpreted as plural to include the multitude of beers a brewery makes. This reading of the law could allow the brewery to serve liberally, since Flying Dog has as many as two dozen beers available at any given time.
Under the current law, Maryland breweries also cannot donate beer directly to non-profits. According to Flying Dog sales representative J.T. Smith, breweries with manufacturing licenses have to buy their product back from a wholesaler in order to donate it. This means if Flying Dog wants to support a community event with their product, they could have to pay as much as $24.50 for something that cost them $15 to make.Baltimore Liquor Control Board chairman Steve Fogleman highlighted some of the proposed changes during his "Meet the BCLCB Chairman" meet-and-greet at The Wharf Rat during Baltimore Beer Week.
Since counties run their own liquor boards in Maryland, Frederick County will be able to take advantage of the new law under local courtesy. The proposed law will be voted on in January or February, but by the time it goes through the legislative process it could be summer of 2011 before Flying Dog fans are enjoying beers in the tap room. Luckily, this will be just in time for the long-awaited return of GonzoFest.
Stay tuned, as always.
(Photos from Young & Hungry's "The Lagerheads'" Flickr feed.)