Measure Will 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 has been signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.
“For too long our craft brewers have been forced to operate under an antiquated system that hampered their ability to compete with businesses in the region,” said Senator Norcross. “With this law, we will create a more friendly business environment for New Jersey’s craft brewing industry, giving it the opportunity to expand and thrive. Growing the industry will create new local jobs, increase tourism and help contribute to an overall healthier state economy.”
New Jersey’s craft brewing industry has grown considerably in the last twenty years; however, state laws had 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 law (S-641/A-1277) modifies areas of state statute that govern the state’s small breweries by cutting red tape and lifting restrictions that are limiting the industry’s growth. The law affects microbreweries (limited license breweries) which produce small batches of beer for sale to retailers and distributors in and out of the state. It also affects 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.
• Permits brew pubs, to increase their annual production to 10,000 barrels a year, up from 3,000.
• Allows brew pubs to distribute their product to liquor stores and restaurants through the wholesale distribution system. Previously, brewpubs could only sell their product in the restaurant immediately adjoining the brewery.
• Increases 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.
• Permits 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.
• Permits microbreweries to sell beer brewed at the licensed location for consumption on premises as part of a brewery tour. Also allows microbreweries to sell a limited amount of beer for off-site consumption.
• Allows microbreweries to offer samples of their product both on and off the premises, as currently permitted by the state’s wineries.
“New Jersey brewpubs and microbreweries make some of the best craft beer around. With the growing popularity of our brews, we have the potential to become a national leader in terms of production,” said Senator Norcross. “Modernizing our laws governing craft beer establishments will free them from restrictive regulations, allowing the industry to expand its footprint in the state and to appropriately respond to increasing product demand. This is a win for the industry, but also a win for the entire state.”
The measure passed both houses in June. The law takes effect immediately.