New Jersey Passes Absurd Brewery Law Regulating Them To Death
The ABC placed a limit of no more than 25 special events on-site in one calendar year, no more than 52 private parties in one year, and no more than 12 special events off-site.
Any time live music or DJs are brought into a brewery, the ABC considers it a special event, adding to the total allotted amount for the year. Though breweries are able to broadcast special television or media events — like the Super Bowl — advertising that the television program will be on now qualifies as a special event.
The provisions also require all new patrons to tour the facility before being able to drink. Breweries cannot hold vendor events or pop-ups and are prohibited from coordinating with food vendors or food trucks.
Under the legislation, breweries can no longer sell food unless it is made and sold in pre-packaged, wrapped containers. Coffee cannot be sold on-site, and soft drinks are only authorized if manufactured in the brewery. No specialty cocktails can be made and sold with malt beverages, and no free drinks or happy hour promotions on malt beverages are allowed.
“They are crippling the breweries by telling us we can’t have events, we can’t do fun things,” Kat Garrity told NBC10. “Why is anyone going to want to come here? They’re trying to make an environment that no one wants to come to.”
The Supposed Defense
A representative from the New Jersey ABC told KYW that the provisions are not new and that they coordinated with several businesses to develop them.
“The Division believes the activities permitted under the 2019 Special Ruling strike a fair and appropriate balance between the interests of full retail license holders, such as restaurants and bars, and the craft brewing industry,” the representative said.
The ABC clarified that things like trivia nights, Quizzo, yoga, or other similar events would not be labeled as special unless they are promoted or advertised on social media. The Division said in 2019 that while New Jersey lawmakers amended the state’s liquor laws to promote the craft brewing industry, the agency never intended to provide breweries with the same privileges as bars and restaurants.
The provisions were passed without the use of New Jersey lawmakers, and brewers like those at Death of the Fox are leading an effort to get the regulations repealed.
One lawmaker, state Sen. Michael Testa, has already responded to the Special Ruling with his legislative proposal. On Tuesday, he revealed that he would introduce a bill to counter the ABC’s limitations on breweries in the coming weeks.
Testa said he is working with other lawmakers to review the language used in the ruling and determine whether legislation can be used to overrule it. He noted that breweries suffered heavily during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly during statewide lockdowns.
“These disastrous and destructive new conditions are an affront to the freedoms our breweries should enjoy in pursuing their goals and trying to find a place in our state’s economy,” Testa said. “In my opinion, the ABC fell far short of treating our local breweries fairly, which we must address with new legislation to aid these small businesses.”
Testa is expected to introduce legislation to counter the ABC ruling at the following New Jersey state Senate quorum.