On the 10-year anniversary of the 2012 law responsible for standing up New Jersey’s craft beer and micro-brewing industry, Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt joined industry leaders for a celebratory tour and tasting.
“Craft beer was experiencing a renaissance and, as a second-term Assemblyman, I was struck by the need to help these small businesses capitalize on their new-found popularity,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “A decade later, it is clear our reforms paid off. Giving life to an industry that is not only a local economic driver, but also a point of pride for our state, I’m proud to celebrate alongside so many of our New Jersey brewers. What comes next is working to chart the path forward for the following 10 years.”
Since 2012, New Jersey’s beer brewing industry has grown 82 percent starting from a mere 25 brewers and increasing to 141 brewers today. Most notably under the 2012 law, brewers were allowed to begin selling beers for on-site consumption, could increase their production, and customers could purchase beers in larger quantities for consumption off premises.
The celebrating group, which included nearly a dozen members of the Brewers Guild of New Jersey and the New Jersey Brewers Association, first toured the operations at the Flying Fish Brewing Company in Somerdale, NJ and then visited Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant in Voorhees, NJ.
“Our breweries are small businesses who help create vibrant local communities by providing job opportunities and adding to the diversity of cultural attractions people can enjoy,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “While marking this important anniversary, we simultaneously recognize the dynamic nature of the industry and so, at the same time, are exploring how we support more opportunities for industry growth to keep these businesses regionally competitive.”
In 2021, the industry had a $1.8 billion economic impact and created 11,107 jobs. A special ruling by the New Jersey Division in Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) that took effect on July 1 of this year has, however, posed new challenges for microbreweries. The most prominent changes of the ABC’s ruling was limiting the breweries’ ability to host special events and private parties at their locations, along with limits on their attendance at events in their communities off-premise.
A move brewers have argued could impact the longevity and staying power of their businesses, the Speaker kicked off today’s celebrations with a closed door meeting. Offering legislators a chance to solicit feedback from stakeholders about potential actions to be taken at the state-level, the meeting proved important in signaling the desire for productive partnership.
“Today’s event at two of the state’s most prominent and award-winning craft breweries allowed our industry to take stock of where our industry was only a decade ago and how far we’ve truly come,” said Eric Orlando, Executive Director, Brewers Guild of New Jersey. “We look forward to working with the Speaker and his colleagues in the Legislature so that the craft beer industry in our state can continue to evolve and meet consumer expectations of not only making great craft beer but also providing great environments to enjoy it in as well.”
Photos can be accessed here.