What’s Brewing in NJ?

As a foodie, have you ever noticed how brewpubs in New Jersey are significantly different from those in surrounding regions like Philadelphia and New York? State regulations here restrict businesses that brew beer making them choose between selling their product for consumption on the premises or making it available for wider distribution. There are other constraints, as well.

In NJ, microbreweries produce small batches of beer for sale to wholesalers and retailers. You can find it in liquor stores in NJ and elsewhere, or in pubs outside of NJ.
Brewpubs are the friendly, casual and atmospheric restaurants that produce small batches of craft beer on site for sale by the glass for consumption on premise. They may also sell their beer for carry out in bottles, jugs known as growlers, and in kegs. Brewpub beer is not available outside the restaurant.

On Monday, March 5th, 2012, the NJ Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will vote on bill S-641. The bill, developed by the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, would give craft brewers in the state more flexibility in how, when and where they may sell, distribute and promote their product. Current regulations are highly restrictive putting NJ brewers at a disadvantage to brewers in the surrounding states of NY, PA and DE. NJ beer-makers also want parity with the state’s wine-makers’ sales, promotion and distribution capabilities.

Garden State Craft Brewers Guild member, Gene Muller, founder of Flying Fish Brewing Co. in Cherry Hill, summarizes the points of the bill as follows:
Allow one company to open more than 2 brewpubs
Allow production breweries to sell beer for on and off premise consumption
Allow breweries and pubs to conduct informational tastings off premise
Allow brewpubs to distribute beer through wholesale network
Allow brewers parity with wineries and with brewers in surrounding states

Current regulations don’t mesh with a growing and changing industry having many small, local breweries rather than large national ones. This bill will address issues that constrict business while still promoting responsible alcohol consumption.

If access to craft beer matters to you, please use your voice. You can make a difference and help NJ brewers and consumers. This will lead to a healthier  business environment for small brewers, more choices for craft beer consumers and hopefully lead to a few more cool brew pubs to hang out in, grab dinner or watch a game.
By Friday, March 2nd, please call or email the five members of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee (listed below) to let them know that you support the legislation as a craft beer consumer and ask them to VOTE YES on the bill.

When calling or emailing members of the committee, you can comment on how this bill will help small brewers continue to create jobs and improve tourism opportunities in NJ. The bill will also give consumers better access to locally made craft beers.

Committee members are listed below.
Donald Norcross, (856) 547-4800
Linda Greenstein(609) 395-9911  
Christopher (908) 526-3600
James Holzapfel, (732) 840-9028
Nicholas Sacco, (201) 295-0200

NJ Craft Beer Guild Members