TRENTON, NJ --  The local microbrewery or brew pub that has been closed for months because of COVID-19 could be getting a helping hand under a proposal moving through the New Jersey State Legislature.

Senate Bill 2463 (S-2463), sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein, would expand an existing New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) loan program to include small producers or retailers of alcoholic beverages, such as microbreweries and brewpubs, to help cover qualified capital expenses during a pandemic. These would include the purchasing of plant, machinery, equipment, or other associated items to alleviate the financial burdens or economic hardships imposed by a pandemic.

Under current law, loans for capital expenses are only available to vineyards and wineries.

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 “Microbreweries and brewpubs have experienced significant growth throughout the last decade and have become popular destinations for residents and tourists across New Jersey,” said Greenstein.  “COVID-19 restrictions have put financial strains on these local businesses that rely heavily on patrons crowding into their facilities, which have sat empty since March."

New Jersey has seen a 43 percent growth in its craft beer industry since 2015. It is now tied for first place with Kentucky in the number of these establishments, according to a new study conducted by the research company Creative & Response Research Services, Inc.

"This EDA loan program would provide much-needed financial relief to these popular establishments that have become critical assets to local economies across our state," added Greenstein. 

Microbreweries produce small batches of beer for sale to wholesalers and retailers both inside and outside New Jersey. Microbreweries are now allowed to sell up to 1/2 keg (or approximately 6 cases) of beer for consumption off premise. Consumers are allowed to purchase beer for consumption on premise, but breweries are not allowed to operate a restaurant or sell food.

Brewpubs are restaurants that produce small batches of craft brewed on site and may sell their own beer by the glass for consumption on premise. They may also sell their beer for carry out in bottles, jugs known as growlers and in kegs.

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