Measure Would Modernize Laws Governing NJ’s Craft Beer Industry, Spurring Business Growth and Job Creation
TRENTON – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) to modernize laws governing the state’s brewpubs and microbreweries to help foster an environment for business growth and job creation within the craft beer industry received final approval today in the Senate. It now heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.
“New Jersey’s craft beer has grown tremendously in popularity in recent years, yet because of state laws that place restrictions on the industry our brewpubs have been unable to respond effectively to consumer demand,” said Senator Norcross. “It is well past time that we updated our state’s antiquated laws governing this industry. This measure will help to cut unnecessary red tape and allow our small breweries to grow their business, in turn creating jobs and helping to boost our local and state economies.”
New Jersey’s craft brewing industry has grown considerably in the last twenty years; however, state laws have not been revised to accommodate the business demand. New Jersey currently ranks 32nd in overall craft beer production, compared to neighboring states like Pennsylvania (2nd), New York (7th) and Delaware (17th) which are amongst the leaders in the country, according to the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild.
Co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Morris/Somerset/Union), the bill (S-641/A-1277) would modify provisions in state law that govern the state’s small breweries by cutting red tape and lifting restrictions that are limiting the industry’s growth. The bill would affect microbreweries (limited license breweries) which produce small batches of beer for sale to retailers and distributors in and out of the state. It would also affect brewpubs (restricted license breweries) which brew small batches of beer for sale at adjoining restaurants. New Jersey’s brewpubs and microbreweries include Iron Hill Brewery in Maple Shade, Flying Fish Brewing Co. in Cherry Hill and Tun Tavern in Atlantic City.
The bill would:
• Permit brew pubs, to increase their annual production to 10,000 barrels a year, up from 3,000.
• Allow brew pubs to distribute their product to liquor stores and restaurants through the wholesale distribution system. Currently, brewpubs may only sell their product in the restaurant immediately adjoining the brewery.
• Increase the current cap on the number of brewpubs a company may open in New Jersey, by raising the limit on plenary retail consumption licenses for brewpubs from two to 10.
• Permit brewpubs to offer samples of their product on site as well as off site with a permit from the Alcohol Beverage Control director, at places such as fairs or charity events.
• Permit microbreweries to sell beer brewed at the licensed location for consumption on premises as part of a brewery tour. Also would allow microbreweries to sell a limited amount of beer for off-site consumption.
• Allow microbreweries to offer samples of their product both on and off the premises, as currently permitted by the state’s wineries.
“New Jersey’s brewpubs and microbreweries offer a one-of-a-kind experience, attracting not only beer aficionados but also tourists looking for the unique beer choices that our establishments provide,” said Senator Norcross.
“Easing the restrictions placed on these businesses, allowing them to provide sampling on and off site as well as to increase production levels, will allow them to generate new business and to meet current and future demand. This will benefit this growing industry, but also the entire state.”
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 39-0. The Assembly approved the bill last week by a vote of 64-13-1.