ROCKVILLE, Md. - When it comes to being in business with alcohol, Montgomery County has a reputation of making it difficult, but the county council is taking steps to change that after passing a series of laws to promote local production of alcohol.
"We're starting to shift the culture of buying big, global brands of products to buying creatively crafted products in our own community to create local jobs and build local community life,” said Council member Hans Riemer.
Riemer has spearheaded many of the council's efforts, including allowing craft brewers to sell directly to stores without going through the county's Department of Liquor Control.
This week, a new reform passed, as part of the approval of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
"We waived the cost of installing larger pipes if your facility needs larger pipes then existed before, or if they didn't have pipes at all,” said Riemer.
It's called a system development charge, and now, local producers of alcohol can avoid it.
"We're moving into a space that has never been a brewery prior there,” said Brendan O'Leary, Co-Owner, True Respite Brewing. “The infrastructure there for brewing equipment doesn't really exist. We're gonna have to build it out ourselves."
Council members said the exemptions are meant to benefit the public, so things like affordable housing and biotechnology research can also avoid SDC fees.
So, for O'Leary, who said Montgomery County is behind the curve on the craft brewing industry, this exemption says a lot about its desire to change, so much so, he's moving to the area.
"I think Montgomery County is taking the stance that craft breweries are a critical piece of the local infrastructure. It's a great spot for people to come together and get to know one another,” said O’Leary.
True Respite is expected to open before Christmas this year off of Gude Drive in Rockville.
O'Leary said the brewery will specialize in Belgian beer.