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How the ABC Special Ruling Hurts Local Business with Rob Silcox of Rob’s Craft Sandwiches Food Truck

Here at South Jersey Beer Scene our main focus on how the ABC Special Ruling on Limited Brewery Licensees is how it affects the breweries, but it also has caused a ton of collateral damage.  There are many people who have built businesses that New Jersey Breweries support and enable someone to make a living.  Food trucks have become a big part of that equation and they certainly will be one of the groups of people that will suffer hardship because of this ruling.  We have made many friends in this industry, but not all of them brew beer.  I started to think about all of the people that we know and reached out to a few of them to get their take on the ruling and how it impacts them.

One of those people is Rob Silcox, who along with his wife Kim own and operate the very popular Rob’s Craft Sandwiches Food Truck.  We have been lucky enough to have had their food and it epitomizes everything that is great with this community.  They prepare great food and oftentimes will incorporate one or more of the breweries beers into their menu to personalize the experience.  Their food is delicious and Rob and Kim are the type of people that you want to see succeed.  They are not just there slapping a sandwich at you, they are creating thoughtful culinary creations that enhance the brewery experience.   I asked Rob if he would do an op-ed of sorts to let our readers know how his business is affected.  The words below are all Rob’s, and I think it brings real clarity to how this ruling may not have been formulated to see the impacts that it has created on non-brewery owners.

Here is what Rob had to say.

Food Truck Fridays, anniversary parties, live bands, Oktoberfest, and new releases are the milestone “special events” at breweries that drive our food truck business through the busy Autumn season and into the off-season.  With these dates falling off of our calendar hour by hour as more from this new bill is clarified, I wonder how we will fill those all so important dates before we have to go down for the winter?  How can we expand our audience to that new town we were booked at that new brewery in? There are many other food trucks out there that are in the same boat.  They’ve modeled their seasons around nights at breweries that are suddenly gone.  Now, as we all scramble to fill those dates with hayrides and pumpkin patches, the reach of this bill is felt in full force.  Was the intention to stifle the young industries of beer brewing and mobile vending? Was the intention to exclude small business for their local customer base? 

Should this pilot program be made permanent, the food trucks that work these events would be severely limited in the places where they can do business, especially in their own communities.  Being mobile does not exclude you from being a local business and working with these local breweries has been the best way for us to gain exposure in our hometown and become a part of our business district.  Our local breweries were vital in the early growth of our truck. Finally, OUR menus shared bar space with other local restaurants inside the tasting room!  Excluding food trucks and menus means ripping them from the fabric of their local communities they’ve worked so hard to immerse themselves into and depend on to stay open.  

The relationships we’ve cultivated while working in this industry border on family.  I’ve done weddings and rehearsal dinners for customers we’ve met through the serving window.  We’ve connected with other small businesses that have used us for employee appreciation lunches and parties.  My wife and I have raised pint glasses with fellow husband and wife business owners after a long shift on the truck.  The folks who attend the breweries as well as everyone that works at these establishments have become our friends and neighbors as well as our best customers.

Luckily, we still have a chance.  This is a pilot program so let’s move forward and let them know what we think of the experiment.  Sign the petition.  Reach out to your local legislator and let them know that you want breweries to be a part of your community.  Support your local brewery whenever possible. But most of all help to save local, small, family run businesses.

Rob Silcox, Owner of Rob’s Craft Sandwiches Food Truck



Camden County Freeholder Louis Cappelli, Jr. Responds to the ABC Special Ruling

The statement below is by Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. in regard to the latest special ruling by the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control.

“Reviewing the special ruling from the ABC I’m shocked to see the shortsighted obstacles and hurdles being mandated on one of the fastest growing small business sectors in the state. Since Congressman Norcross sponsored legislation in 2012 to cut the red tape and modernize craft brewing in New Jersey, small business owners have opened in almost every town in the county. Many have had tremendous impacts on their neighborhoods and have become a catalyst for economic growth in many municipalities. They have become the epitome of community spaces, created destinations for new visitors to the county and have employed many of our residents. In fact, many of these facilities have expanded from their original operations further investing their assets here in our county. And to further underscore the challenges created by this new measure there are indirect losses faced by other small business owners and downtown merchants who benefit from the success of our craft brewers.

In short, these capricious and arbitrary measures should be reassessed post haste to strengthen the industry and support these operations. This is not the kind of business climate our state should be promoting and we need to do more to support small business, not create restrictions for these local entrepreneurs.”


Breaking Down the New Jersey Special Ruling on Limited Brewery Licenses and What Has Changed

Editor’s Note:  This is my take on the release of the Special Ruling.  These thoughts are mine, formed with help of speaking with 7 brewery owners and several other people in the industry today.  This is my initial take of what I believe the rules are, if there are errors it is due to the ambiguity of the ruling that, I and many others feel, needs some more clarification.  Enjoy the piece and let me know what you think!


Well it has happened.  David P. Rible, New Jersey Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, has handed down his special ruling effective September 21st, 2018 that will change the landscape of how a brewery can operate it’s business.  While some of the language of the Special Ruling will need further clarification ( Editors Note: After speaking to many brewery owners there are still some grey areas), but we are going to break down the changes the way we see them.  As of this date, I have spoken to at least 7 brewery owners of various sizes and ages about the new rulings and will use that background when explaining the new rules, and how they feel they will be affected by them.

First of all, I find this statement very telling:

In passing the 2012 amendment, the Legislature intended to promote the craft beer industry and create a demand for these products by the consuming public. The expectation was that the increased demand for craft beers would generate greater retail sales of these products at licensed consumption and distribution premises. Accordingly, the law was enacted to require consumers to take a tour of the brewery, to sample the beers produced on-site, and then to purchase them as package goods for off-premises consumption or for on-premises consumption at a Class C licensed premises. The 2012 amendment was not intended to establish a new consumption venue at the brewery, with the same privileges as a sports bar or restaurant.

Over the past year, I have visited numerous limited breweries, met with and spoken to various stakeholders, including the different tiers in the alcohol industry, and have analyzed the issues facing the growing craft beer industry. As a result of these visits, meetings with stakeholders, and discussions with the owners of the breweries, it has become apparent that there is significant confusion in the industry regarding what constitutes an appropriate tour and what constitutes permissible activities that may take place on a licensed premises, particularly in the tasting rooms of the limited breweries. Although it is clear that a tasting room at a limited brewery is not a new consumption venue with the same privileges as a Class C plenary retail consumption licensee, it is also evident that the brewery has limited retail privileges granted by the Legislature

I want to know where was this “evident”?  Let’s break it down.

Clearly, the 2012 Amendment has been met with several different interpretations.  The most maddening thing about the 2012 Amendment is that it really doesn’t tell you much more than this:

  • to brew any malt beverage, not in excess of 300,000 barrels (31-gallon barrels) per year
  • to sell to wholesalers and at festivals in the state
  • to sell and distribute out of state
  • as part of a tour, sell beer for on-site consumption
  • to offer samples to visitors
  • to sell up to 15.5 gallons of beer (i.e. a keg) for consumption off-premises
  • sale of food is absolutely prohibited
  • to maintain a warehouse

Initially the rules were followed without any interperetation.  You opened, you did tours, you sold beer.  As the number of breweries continued to grow and the popularity started to skyrocket, you started to see breweries holding events to bring people in to their establishment.  Music, TV, Quizzo, Yoga, Craft Classes, Painting Parties, etc started to pop up all over New Jersey Breweries.  These events were held in addition to following all of the above rules, and grew immensely popular.  Something else was happening, breweries started to become vital to the community.  Want to know what is going on in your town?  Visit the local brewery.  Want to know the skinny on the best restaurants?  Visit you local brewery.  Breweries were hot.  Towns were changing their laws to allow breweries to be built within city limits (Pitman and Haddonfield, both traditionally dry towns, both changed laws to do this) and they were prospering, changing downtowns and being key businesses in raising money for local charities, letting their space be used for events, and earning the town revenue.  People were starting to take notice.

Fast forward to 2016.  There are now around 70 Breweries in the state and they are making inroads on taps in bars, shelf space in liquor stores, and have spawned other businesses and blogs (like this one).  Craft beer was growing in leaps and bounds and we started to see some push back from bars and restaurants who felt that breweries were overstepping their bounds.  Mostly they were isolated incidents and the majority of the bar and restaurant owners embraced craft beer and had many of them on tap in their establishments.  As the breweries continued to grow, we started to hear more complaints from liquor liscense holders that were upset with the breweries that were, in the words of one owner I spoke to, “acting like sports bars”.  I had a pretty heated conversation with him, explaining that his license was worth something, that he could sell anything he wanted, and that he was himself selling craft beer at his bar.  When I mentioned that breweries had to make everything that they sold he still wouldn’t budge.  This is the moment that I saw all the rainbows and sunshine on craft breweries was starting to wane in the eyes of distributors, liquor license holders, and big beer. Oh yeah, big beer started to lose market share, don’t think for one second that their lobbyists are not involved in the new rules.  So here we are in 2018 with almost 100 breweries and nearly 20 more in development and the hammer has come down.

So here are the changes:

  • In the case of on-site activities, such as trivia night, paint and sip, live music, live sporting events and yoga night, etc., a Limited Brewery licensee will be permitted to hold a total of twenty-five (25) events per license term on the licensed premises of a Limited Brewery..The e-notification shall be provided to the Division by the Limited brewery at least ten (10) days before the special event is scheduled to occur

 Goodbye unlimited music, Quizzo, painting, etc.  You now are limited to 25.

  • I have determined that a Limited Brewery is eligible to receive a total of twelve (12) special permits per license term for events held off of the licensed premises, as either an extension of the licensed premises (“Limited Brewery Extension of Premises Special Permit”) or completely off of the licensed premises (Limited Brewery Off-Premises Special Permit”)

This is actually something that is new.  You will be able to hold 12 off premise events as an extension of your licensed premises.  The owners I spoke with see this as a benefit, although it remains to be seen to what extent these permits will allow you to do.

A Limited Brewery Licensee may allow a maximum of 52 private parties to occur on the licensed premises, such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries,civic/political functions, professional/trade association events, class reunion/alumni events, provided the following conditions are met:

a. No alcoholic beverages, except those malt alcoholic beverages produced by the  Limited brewery on-site, may be sold or served at a private party;

b. If the host of a private party  brings food onto the licensed premises of  the Brewery, she/he shall remove all food at the end of the party;

c. A private party may be held in an area on the licensed premises of a Limited Brewery, provided that such area is clearly separated from the tasting room by a permanent or temporary structure and is not accessible by or to the general public. Under no circumstances may a member of the general public enter the separate area of the private party, and the Limited Brewery licensee is responsible for ensuring that only private party guests are permitted in the area separated off for the private party;

d. Tickets shall not be sold to attend a private party, nor may the event be advertised to the general public;

e. The Division may request a copy of the contract between the host of the private party and the Limited Brewery licensee;

f. A Limited Brewery licensee shall provide to the Division a post-event accounting for every private party held on the licensed premises, which may include but not be limited to,the guest list and the amount of alcoholic beverages sold.

Is this even worth it?   I feel like the hassle that is involved in this will immediately make some breweries decide to just not have any of these events (this was also affirmed by a few of the owners we spoke to)

The holder of a Limited Brewery Off-Premises Special Permit or Limited Brewery Extension of Premises Special Permit shall not be permitted to:

  • Provide food, except as otherwise permitted in Section 6(c), operate a restaurant, or coordinate with any food vendors to sell food in the areas designated by the permit. However, nothing stated herein shall prohibit individuals attending the event from bringing food into the area designated by the permit;
  • Sell any other type of alcoholic beverage or sodas, except those produced on the licensed premises of the permittee
  • A Limited Brewery licensee may offer for sale or make gratuitous offering of de minimis types of food as an accommodation to patrons, such as water, pre-packaged crackers, chips, nuts and similar snacks.

So no food except small pre-packaged good like chips, peanuts or the like.  Also NO MENUS in the tasting room!  What does that accomplish?  It further distances the community from the brewery.  If you took a poll of everyone in NJ about this I bet that it would be a landslide in favor of allowing menus.  This is baffling!

  • Background music, radio and television may be provided on the licensed premises. However, no live music, DJs or television programs,movies or sporting events, pre- recorded or otherwise, may occur on the licensed premises unless the Limited Brewery licensee provides e-notification to the Division pursuant to Section 3(b),above, and does not exceed the 25 authorized on-premises special events per license.

Saw that one coming.

So these are the new rules.  No food or food trucks.  No Quizzo, TV, Live Music, Sporting Events, SODA (unless you make it), MENUS (REALLY?), Yoga, Adopt-A-Pet events, etc.  UNLESS IT IS ONE OF YOUR 25 PERMITS PER YEAR!

This is really going to hurt folks!  People have poured their life savings into a business that has changed it’s rules mid-stream.  I fear that we will see people going out of business or severely limiting their hours. I see people who are employed by these breweries losing their jobs because ownership will not be able to support them.  I see a state that has succumbed to the wishes of Big Beer and the Bar and Restaurant Lobby.  I see a division of the state that is trying to slow down progress for political reasons.  Prove me wrong!

What can you do?  Keep supporting your local brewery and the businesses that support it.  Make your voice heard by your legislator, it is the only way that you will be able to change this ruling.  It is clear that the ABC has shown where their loyalties lie.

Of course this is just my opinion, but I don’t think that I am that far off.

For the full document please follow the link here:


Do you want to help?  Contact your local legislator!  Follow the link below!

New Jersey Legislature





Breweries News

Breaking News! Slack Tide Brewing Company and Village Idiot Brewing Co. Win GABF Medals!


Slack Tide Brewing Company of Clermont and Village Idiot Brewing Company of Mt. Holly both are bringing home hardware from the 2018 Great American Beer Festival!

The only 2 medals for NJ were brought home by 2 South Jersey Breweries!

Slack Tide Brewing Company won a Bronze in the American-Style Amber/Red Ale for Avalon Amber

Village Idiot Brewing Company won a Silver in the Belgian-Style Tripel

Congratulations to both of these breweries on this awesome achievement!


For a Complete list of winners vist the Great American Beer Festival Winners Page 

Breweries News

Dogfish Head Launches A Cork-Finished Wild Beer Program!

Wouldn’t It Be Wild If Dogfish Head Launched A Cork-Finished Wild Beer Program?  Oh Wait, They Just Did With “Wooden…It Be Nice!”

Brewery producing America’s fastest selling sour beer, SeaQuench Ale, begins a wild beer program and hosts limited bottle release

 Milton, Del., September 12, 2018 – On an endless exploration of goodness, Dogfish Head is proud to be a craft brewery producing and celebrating sour and wild ales for over two decades and is excited to announce the launch of its brand new, funky wild beer program, “Wooden…It Be Nice!”  With three wild ales primed for a 2018 Milton-only release, and more releases to come in future years, the brewers at Dogfish have already hand-bottled over two-thousand cork and caged 375ml bottles, each one hand painted with a special stripe signifying its uniquely crafted touch.

“About fifteen years ago, we first started experimenting with sours, beginning with Festina Lente – a peach wild ale that won us a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup in 2006 – then went on to produce SeaQuench Ale which is currently the top selling sour in America,” said Sam Calagione, CEO and founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.  “Now, we’re amplifying our wild beer program with Wooden…It Be Nice!, as it’s another step forward in our journey and evolution of goodness incorporating everything from herbs and spices, to local fruits, and of course, bringing it all together in wood.” Dogfish Head is the number one producer of the fastest growing beer in the fastest growing craft beer style in America – SeaQuench Ale, a session sour.*

So what makes a beer wild? It’s different from traditional brewing in that it’s fermented with wild yeast variations, like Brettanomyces and often times with bacteria like Lactobacillus or Pediococcus.  The yeast and bacteria are carefully introduced to the wood-aged beer, which can develop a wide array of flavors, including degrees of sourness, funkiness  and fruitiness.  Due to the untamable nature of the yeast, the beer can sit in barrels for months or even years till brewers deem it ready for consumption.  This  process can sometimes delay the release of the beer, but when it’s finally ready, it’s truly remarkable.  Isn’t that wild?

The “Wooden…It Be Nice!” program opens with the release of KnottyBits, a wild ale (8.2% ABV) aged on sweet and sour cherries and rhubarb, available beginning September 29 at 11 a.m.  KnottyBits was wood-aged for a year with Brettanomyces and then racked onto several hundred pounds of sweet and sour cherries and locally sourced rhubarb from Fifer Orchards at a rate of more than 2 lbs. of fresh fruit per gallon.  KnottyBits is bottle conditioned for an elevated carbonation resembling a ruby red colored sparkling wine of sorts.  Priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 2000 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.

Look for Wet Hop American Summer in early November – a Farmhouse Ale (7.75% ABV),  this beer was aged in freshly emptied Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces for over a year, before being racked onto freshly harvested and hand-selected whole leaf Citra hops, still wet from the fields.  The resulting beer has a great citrus aroma from the hops which is a perfect complement to the funky and rustic nature of the Farmhouse Ale base.  Wet Hop American Summer is priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 1500 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.

In mid-December, the brewery will release Eastern Seaboard, a wild ale (8% ABV) brewed with blackberries and beach plums.  After spending almost a year and a half aging in wine barrels, the liquid was met with several hundred pounds of blackberry and Eastern Shore beach plums, handpicked and selected by the brewers.  The jamminess of the blackberry and tartness of the plums perfectly pair with one another in this deceptively dry beer.  Eastern Seaboard is bottle conditioned to achieve champagne-like carbonation and is violet in color. Priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 2000 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.

For more information about upcoming “Wooden It Be Nice!” bottle release dates, and Dogfish Head social accounts: Facebook: @dogfishheadbeer, Twitter: @dogfishbeer, and Instagram: dogfishhead.

Dogfish Head:

Dogfish Head has proudly been focused on brewing beers with culinary ingredients outside the Reinheitsgebot since the day it opened as the smallest American craft brewery 23 years ago. Dogfish Head has grown into a top-20 craft brewery and has won numerous awards throughout the years including Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Brewery of the Year and the James Beard Foundation Award for 2017 Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional. It is a 350+ coworker company based in Delaware with Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, an off-centered brewpub and distillery, Chesapeake & Maine, a geographically enamored seafood restaurant, Dogfish Inn, a beer-themed inn on the harbor and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, a production brewery and distillery featuring a tasting room and food truck.  Dogfish Head supports the Independent Craft Brewing Seal, the definitive icon for American craft breweries to identify themselves to be independently-owned and carries the torch of transparency, brewing innovation and the freedom of choice originally forged by brewing community pioneers. Dogfish Head currently sells beer in 43 states and Washington D.C. and will expand into additional states in 2018. For more information, visit, Facebook: @dogfishheadbeer, Twitter: @dogfishbeer, and Instagram: dogfishhead.