When was DuClaw founded?
Jim Wagner: DuClaw was founded in 1996 by Dave Benfield, who is still the owner.
You have four locations in Maryland. Do they all brew on site?
It’s good you mentioned that. Due to Maryland state law, they do not. Early on, we were in quite a conundrum when we decided to take the DuClaw concept further. Dave, our owner, had the vision of expanding to multiple brewpubs. It didn’t take a whole lot of time to find out that in Maryland that was against the law.
Really? What’s the problem?
Exactly how it’s written I do not know, but the meat and potatoes of it is that an owning entity—in this case, Dave—can own one [brewpub] location, but he cannot own more than one. The rhetoric says this law was put in place basically to prevent Bud or Miller or Coors from coming into the state and opening 10 or 12 breweries and dominating the scene. That sounds well and good, but in actuality it kind of handcuffs a lot of craft brewers.
We decided at that point it really wasn’t feasible to fight the law. Dave realized after talking to the state liquor board that we could brew at one of our locations and supply a second location. We opened a restaurant at Arundel Mills, not what we’d call a true brewpub, but a restaurant that served only our beer. Legally, we were then able to brew at our original location, send our beer to a distributor and buy it back to sell at our second location.
Isn’t that a classic example of how crazy these laws become?
Then, when we opened our third location, at that point, you could legally send the beer [made at an original site] to one location, but if you owned more than one, then that’s illegal.