Update: Revised Brewery regulations were released on May 28, 2019. Click Here for read our analysis.
Several sources have told us that the New Jersey ABC is expected to release their new take on brewery regulations soon, even as early as this week. All parties involved have been looking for direction since the controversial New Jersey Special Ruling on Limited Licensed Breweries was suspended on October 5th of last year by then Director David Rible. The ruling caused a huge public outcry and the suspension was supported by both top Democrats and Republicans from the Statehouse, including Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. Gov. Phil Murphy also added, via twitter, “Since last week, I’ve expressed concerns about unintended consequences of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s special ruling. I applaud today’s decision and look forward to continuing to support our vibrant craft beer industry.” The story continued to develop as Director David Rible left his post of ABC Director and was replaced by Judge James Graziano.
At the time of the initial ruling, the ABC stated that its initial review was prompted by complaints from bars and restaurants of unfair competition by craft breweries, and the response from the ABC put extreme limits on events that are permitted at a Limited License Brewery here in New Jersey. Brewery owners across the state argued that their considerable investment in facilities, brewing equipment, ingredients, and distribution costs were not taken into account with the Bar Restaurant License VS. The Brewery License argument and should be taken into account by the state.
One of the biggest unintended consequences of the ruling was that it would limit the amount of charitable and civic events held by breweries as they would be part of the event cap. These events are important to the breweries, but they are not money making opportunities and would force them to limit these events. The ruling was not all bad, it did give the breweries the ability to have 12 off-site events that they would be able to use, kind of like having an off site tasting room, to generate more income.
With the state now having over 100 breweries open (and more on the way), the industry is one of the fastest growing in the state. A new economic impact study, jointly commissioned by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) and the Beer Institute, estimates that the beer industry contributes nearly $6.7 billion dollars to the state’s economy. It further shows that the 45,546 jobs impacted by the beer industry in New Jersey account for $2.3 billion each year in wages and benefits. The industry also generates $1.2 billion annually in business, personal and consumption taxes.
No longer is this a niche industry here in New Jersey, we are talking real economic impact. Hopefully the new regulations will give some clarity to the rules that clearly need some sort of interpretation and allow this industry to continue to grow in the leaps and bounds that it has shown over the last 7 years.