Cruz-Perez Bill to Help Craft Breweries in NJ Clears Committee

Nilsa Cruz Perez

TRENTON – Legislation by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez to create a cidery and meadery license in New Jersey cleared the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today.

“New Jersey is creating some of the best craft beer, wine, and spirits in the country. We have seen that giving these industries room to grow has had a positive effect,” said Senator Cruz-Perez. “It would be a shame to limit our ability to continue that trend simply because we don’t have the laws in place to allow for the production of hard cider and mead.”

The bill, S-2570 creates a cidery and meadery license which permits the holder to manufacture a maximum of 25,000 barrels of hard cider and 25,000 barrels of mead and to sell these products to wholesalers and retailers in New Jersey and other states.

Currently, mead and hard cider may only be produced under a winery license. With the growth of the craft alcohol industry, interest has arisen for special licensure for facilities that produce only mead, cider, or a combination of both. In order for these products to be produced, a winery license would need to be obtained, even in the absence of wine production. Winery licenses require that production facility is on or adjacent to 3 acres of land designated and used for the production of fruit.

The land requirement under the winery license put an unnecessary financial burden on those seeking to produce mead and cider. Unlike wine which requires acres of grapes for production, mead is a honey based product which does not require land for fruit growth and hard cider, typically an apple based product, does not require the same space for fruit production as much of the fruit used  cannot be produced within the state, the sponsor noted.

A 2015 article in The Star-Ledger profiled three men who are making a living by using apple cider to produce quality liquor from their Sussex County farm. Hard cider and mead are beverages with a long history that have grown in popularity in recent years. The bill was developed by legislators in conjunction with local entrepreneurs interested in specializing in hard ciders and meads.

The bill cleared committee unanimously and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.