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Coughlin, Diegnan & Ramos Bill to Boost New Jersey’s Microbreweries & Brew Pubs Released by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Craig J. Coughlin, Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. sponsored 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 was released this week by and Assembly panel.

“Like much of the rest of the country, New Jersey is experiencing a craft beer brewing renaissance,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “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 Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “This is good for economic development, job creation and our state’s tourist industry.”

“Breweries have become a popular tourist attraction and there is no shortage of them in New Jersey,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “Updating these laws will help our breweries take advantage of the growing demand for regional craft beers, which not only benefits the breweries, but the communities where they are located and the state.”

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

  • 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.

The bill is a compromise with the alcohol industry and the three tier system made up of the manufacturers, the distributors, and the retailers who all had a seat at the table during negotiations.

The bill was released 9-0 by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Monday and now heads to the full Assembly for further consideration.