New NJ Bill Aims to End Craft Brewery Tours & Add Food Vendors
A new bill in New Jersey was introduced last week which would amend the 2012 law that established microbreweries in the state and governs their operations and restrictions.
This is the first attempt so far to legislatively address the craft brewing industry after a special ruling was issued by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) which implemented restrictions on events and other brewery operations. The ruling was suspended indefinitely only a week later after significant public backlash from both brewers and state government officials.
The ruling would have limited craft breweries to only being able to hold a finite number of “special events,” like trivia nights and paint and sip nights, as well as limiting the number of private parties. In response, Brewed Independent, a collection of South Jersey breweries, created a petition calling for the ruling’s suspension and quickly garnered more than 25,000 signatures.
ABC announced they would be suspending the ruling shortly thereafter until the division could meet further with craft breweries and alcoholic beverage licensers and iron out new regulations.
The new bipartisan bill, introduced by Assemblymen Joe Howarth and Wayne DeAngelo, was structured to mirror similar microbrewery allowances in other states like New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
The bill would allow unlimited onsite events for yoga and craft classes, live music, and televised sporting events. If passed, it would also end brewery tours as a requirement for purchasing beer in tasting rooms.
The bill does propose that breweries are limited to obtaining permits to sell products off the brewery premises only 12 times a year. This provision was originally included in the special ruling as well.
However, the bill does allow microbreweries to offer soda and takeout food menus, as well as permit food vendors on brewery premises.
Now that the bill has been introduced, it will most likely go through rounds of negotiations with holders of consumption liquor licenses.