Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and non-review posts here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…
I’ve written very often about the Beer Scene here in New Jersey, about what a great community it is, how the breweries are almost like an extended family. Well, legislation put forth on July 1 initiated sweeping changes for the craft beer community in New Jersey.
A special ruling by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control dictates that brewery licensees will be limited in the number of events they can host and attend every year.
Under the ruling, microbreweries are allowed to hold 25 on-site activities, like music, trivia, yoga, etc. annual in addition to 52 private parties. Breweries can also attend only 12 off-premises events, such as town and holiday celebrations. Before the unjust ruling, breweries could weren’t limited to the number of events they could hold. The definition of “Events” is fairly broad, and includes anytime they have television on, host a DJ regardless of the brewery advertising it.
Further, breweries cannot have food trucks on premise. For example, I’d guess Readington Brewery near me which is a purpose built brewery on a plot of land can’t have a food truck, but say, Jersey Cyclone whose brewery is in an industrial park and where Cyclone doesn’t own the property can have a food truck.
The restaurant lobbyists are the ones helping to push through this legislation, and have been seen as one roadblock to the growth of breweries in NJ for years, partially because liquor licenses in NJ are so expensive.
There’s a great article on tje Breweries in PA site, something of a “cousin” site to NJ Craft Beer: New Jersey Continues To Be The Armpit of America; Strips Breweries Down To Bare Bones.
More details can be found in this NorthJersey.com article.
Steal this Beer from this past Monday (07/04/22) featured Scott Wells of Bolero Snort (Carlstadt, NJ) as their guest. Hosts Augie Carton (of Carton Brewing) and John Holl spoke with Scott about this ridiculous legislature.
One way YOU can potentiall affect change is to sign the petition on Change.org, Reverse the “Special Ruling” by the NJABC. As of this post going live, the petition is nearing 2500 signatures.
The form letter below was posted on thr NJ Craft Beer site, please feel free to use when you write to your elected officials (Assemblypersons and Senators), who you can find here: NJ Legislature: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/district-map.
Dear ELECTED OFFICIAL
I am a resident and voter in (YOUR TOWN NAME), NJ. I spend a lot of my free time and hard-earned money patronizing the state’s local breweries with my friends and family because I am a big fan of locally-produced craft beer and the small businesses that brew it.
On Friday, July 1st, all of my local breweries were arbitrarily hit with a long list of anticompetitive restrictions on their license by the NJ Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (NJABC) which has drastically changed my ability to enjoy the atmosphere and offerings of my local breweries. These restrictions are anti-consumer and artificially tip the scales against brewers and the small businesses they’ve created.
Did you know: A brewery can get fined or lose their license if an international soccer tournament happens to come on the TV and nobody changes the channel immediately. Breweries have to choose between hosting my birthday party or someone’s wedding because they have a cap on private parties. Breweries can’t support the local Independence Day celebration or the Memorial Day parade because it counts as an extra “off-site event” that they might not have planned for. A brewery advertising the fact that their local coal fired pizza truck is slinging pies in the street can get the brewery shut down.
Breweries can’t donate a keg to a fundraiser in support of a children’s charity any more, or offer discounts to military veterans or volunteer firefighters who serve their community. Breweries can’t help arrange an outside caterer for a local high school reunion to have food to help their customers consume responsibly and dance the night away. Breweries can’t sell (or even give for free!) the designated driver a cup of coffee to enjoy while their friends responsibly partake in handcrafted ales and lagers. Isn’t that ridiculous?
In many towns, the local brewery as an anchor business is now limited in the events it can host that draw not only local consumers, but also out of town customers who spend their money in a myriad of ways that help the town. Towns that were dying have seen a revitalization driven by these local economic engines creating space, patronizing local artists, advertising not just their product but the experience of being in that town.
This creates fewer spaces for young artists looking to start or build their musical career. It not only disincentivizes local business collaboration, it actually penalizes it. One tenet of the regulations requires each employee to be Safe Serve certified, then strictly prohibits the two most critical components to ensuring the safe consumption of alcohol: food availability.
My local brewery brings people to my town, gives me a comfortable place to spend time with my family and friends, supports my community, and has increased our town’s ratables. It’s important to me that they are able to survive, and have the opportunity to thrive.
Big money interests from outside our community have their thumb on the scale but it’s important that you understand that the voters in your district like me, my family, and my neighbors value these brewers. These interests’ motives to protect their liquor license value should not stand in the way of your constituents like me from being able to enjoy my local brewery without these current restrictions.
I am asking that you support legislation codifying breweries’ ability to host events, donate beer, provide discounts to those who give back to their communities, and show whatever live television programming they (and their customers) wish. Permanent legislation will prevent attempts in the future to take away these valuable consumer-first protections and imposing unfair, anticompetitive edicts on small businesses.
I appreciate your consideration and support of our grassroots, consumer-first campaign to roll back these unfair rules and enact permanent legislative remedies.