New Law Eases Restrictions On NJ Microbreweries

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill to revise restrictions on New Jersey’s microbreweries and brewpubs and make it easier for them to offer their product to the public and enhance their appeal as tourist destinations.

“Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only ‘Jersey Fresh’ product in high demand,” said state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., (R-Union). “The old restrictions on sales and distribution on locally produced beers were the definition of red tape and a burden on these small businesses. Our bi-partisan effort has rewritten the law to help New Jersey brewers more easily compete.”

“Like much of the rest of the country, New Jersey is experiencing a craft beer brewing renaissance,” said Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the legislation. “The appeal of these regional beers is making microbreweries and brewpubs tourist destinations. To help these small businesses capitalize on their newfound popularity, we need to update the state’s antiquated laws regarding micro-brewing.”

“By making these changes to our brewing laws, we can help better promote New Jersey’s existing breweries and attract new brewers looking to make their mark on the world of craft beer,” said Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), another sponsor of the legislation. “This is good for economic development, job creation and our state’s tourist industry.”

New Jersey is home to more than 16 microbreweries and brewpubs. The law (A-1277) updates New Jersey’s existing brewing laws, granting microbreweries and brewpubs many of the same rights enjoyed by New Jersey’s local wineries. Specifically, the law will:

  • Allow microbreweries to sell their products to consumers for consumption on or off the premises, meaning a microbrewery could have a sampling room with taps and bottles. Sales for on-premise consumption are limited to brewery tours. Sales for off-premise consumption are limited to 15.5 gallons or half a keg per customer;
  • Allow microbreweries to offer product samples of an amount no larger than 4oz. on or off the licensed premise. An ABC permit would be required to provide samples;
  • Incorporates a 24 hour “at rest” provision for the state’s microbreweries. The new provision will ensure greater transparency and accountability for state tax and law enforcement officials when monitoring existing regulations and tax compliance.
  • Increase the maximum annual allowable production for brewpubs from 3,000 to 10,000 barrels. This will allow brewpubs to produce enough beer so it can be sold to the distribution network;
  • Reduce to $250 from $625 the fee for every additional production of 1,000 barrels of beer over the first 1,000 for brewpubs.
  • Permits brewpubs opened by the same entity to operate a maximum of 10 brewpubs from a previous limit of two
  • Allows brewpubs to offer samples of its product off the licensed premise as permitted by ABC at charitable or civic events for promotional purposes.

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