Lindabury Legal Corner

Love Craft Beer But Hate the Tour? State Assembly Moves to Make it Easier for You to Belly Up to the Bar

6ff78c91daf36e0a83a8_Reilly_Chris.jpg
6ff78c91daf36e0a83a8_Reilly_Chris.jpg

Good news is a brew for New Jersey craft beer advocates. In February 2018, the New Jersey Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee paved the way for the introduction of Bill A2196, which would remove a current licensing rule requiring breweries and distilleries to provide a tour of their facilities before serving alcoholic beverages to consumers. Currently, breweries holding a New Jersey Limited Brewery License are prohibited from selling their brews at the brewery, unless patrons first complete a tour of the premises. This requirement applies to every customer, regardless of whether it is their first or fifteenth visit to a particular brewery, and failure to issue a tour can result in a hefty fine. If passed, Bill A2196 would be the latest step in a number of recent legislative changes aimed at easing New Jersey’s complex and stringent liquor laws.  

New Jersey craft beer production has exploded over the past four years. As of February 2018, the New Jersey Craft Beer Association has identified ninety-eight breweries and brew pubs in the State of New Jersey, as well as twenty-four “startup” breweries in the process of obtaining licensing or permits. The growth of craft breweries in the State is in no small part due to a trend in Trenton towards loosening the State’s strict liquor laws by steadily expanding the rights for breweries with Limited Brewery Licensees. 

Prior to 2013, breweries were limited to selling their products to licensed retailers and wholesalers. If a brewery was interested in establishing a tasting room, it would be required to obtain a special permit—issued by a different regulatory agency—that limited service to 4 oz. samples. Then, in December 2013, a noticeable shift in policy took hold when the Limited Brewery License was amended to consolidate these laws and permit the consumption of full-sized beers on the premises. The amendment permitted breweries to sell their brews on site for consumption, but only if such beverages were offered in connection with a brewery or distillery tour. 

Sign Up for E-News

The 2013 amendment was heralded for allowing breweries to open full-fledged tasting rooms for the public, but the tour requirement ultimately proved to be a burden as it dampened the customer experience and limited the ability of small craft breweries to operate effectively. For those familiar with the New Jersey craft beer scene, the tour requirement has resulted in unenthusiastic sermons on the functions of a beer kettle or a science lesson on the wonders of fermentation. This serves only to delay the true purpose of visiting a local brewery: socializing and tasting. With each repeat visit, customers are bound to find the tour an unnecessary redundancy. Those entering their local craft brewery for a pint are often there to relax, and therefore prefer to spend their time sitting with friends rather than walking a storeroom.

The tour requirement has been criticized by many of the brewers as well. When required to give a tour prior to sale, a brewery must be equipped to handle service in a bustling tasting room while simultaneously provide tours to each new customer that walks through the door. As a result, craft breweries—most of which are owned by small entrepreneurs—find themselves forced to pay for additional staff and must design their tasting room around the tour. To make matters worse, breweries in surrounding states such as New York & Pennsylvania are free from these regulatory encumbrances, thus placing New Jersey brewers at a disadvantage.

Bill A2196 seeks to push New Jersey’s brewery movement further. By doing away with the tour requirement, breweries can now open their taprooms directly to customers without requiring a personal walkthrough of the premises or a lecture on the brewing process. Breweries would be able to focus on improving their taprooms, optimizing staff, and bettering the overall brewery experience. Most breweries are still likely to offer tours, but on a schedule that suits the schedule and finances of a small business owner. 

This proposed amendment would prove to be a valuable, but merely incremental, step in the movement towards alleviating breweries of New Jersey’s regulatory restraints. Breweries remain subjected to a variety of regulations that are sure to be challenged as the craft beer industry grows, including those that control their location, production, tasting, suppliers, and sales. 

As home brewers continue to leave their garages and pursue their passion at a commercial level, New Jersey’s liquor laws will remain an important roadblock in the development of each new craft brewery. New Jersey beer advocates can expect to see some favorable changes to New Jersey’s Limited Brewery License, but the production of craft beer is still likely to remain a complex, well-regulated industry. For those just venturing into this expanding market, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney familiar with the local, state, and federal regulations affecting your target location. Lindabury’s Food & Beverage group has advised several New Jersey craft breweries and assisted in their progression from idea to operating business.  The passage of bills such as A2196 will help develop New Jersey into a brewery-friendly state, but require careful consideration for growing breweries to ensure continued compliance.

Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper is a mid-sized general practice law firm providing quality legal services to businesses and individuals throughout New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic region. Our attorneys provide vigorous and cost-effective counsel to help clients meet their personal and professional objectives. Learn more about all of the services Lindabury provides by visiting www.Lindabury.Law.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Video: Union County Celebrates Pride Month with CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic

June 18, 2018

RAHWAY, NJ — Parents, children, friends and all family members came out on Saturday afternoon to Rahway River Park for the Union County CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic.

The family-friendly celebration hosted by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders was a day of arts and crafts, family lawn games, inflatable bounce houses, playground fun and more, along with music by the rock ...

Westfield 20/20 Endorses Tom Malinowski for Congress

June 18, 2018

The upcoming congressional election is not a typical midterm. We, as a country, are in a state of crisis. We need strong leaders to hold the current White House administration accountable on important policy matters such as healthcare, the environment, gun violence, and the rights of women.

Throughout his candidacy, Tom Malinowski has demonstrated intellect, conviction, and strength. As a ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_047913bad52c65b1222e_westfield_band_photo_summer_2015__2_on_gazebo

Thu, June 21, 7:30 PM

Mindowaskin Park, Westfield

Westfield Summer Concert Series

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_494009374f5b6e909328_spb-4937_newsletter_june_22

Fri, June 22, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Sports

Fri, June 22, 7:30 PM

Crossroads, Garwood

Benefit Concert

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Westfield Police Blotter: Tires Slashed on Scotch Plains Ave & More

June 13, 2018

June 6, 2018 3:05 p.m.

A resident of the 200 block of sunset avenue reports being the victim of a fraud. Unknown actor(s) utilized victims credit card to purchase an appliance valued at $1,000.00. Victim did not sustain any monetary loss during this incident. 

June 6, 2018 6:50 a.m.

A resident of the 100 block of Scotch Plains Avenue reports being the victim of a criminal mischief.

Union County’s Free Summer Arts Concert Series Launches Friday, June 22

June 20, 2018

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ — The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra kicks off Union County’s 57th annual Summer Arts Festival series of free outdoor concerts sponsored by the Freeholder Board with an evening of Broadway favorites, opera overtures and more on Friday June 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.

Attendees are also invited to bring a mat or beach towel and join in a free ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

Understand the New Law for Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick leave is now the law in New Jersey.

New Jersey has passed a paid sick leave law which preempts paid sick leave ordinances adopted by several cities and towns so there is now one uniform law in this area for New Jersey employers. Here is what you need to know about the new law.

33 Homes Sold June 10 to June 17 in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Thirty-three Homes sold from June 10 to June 17, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside.*

 

TOWN         ADDRESS                      STYLE    ...

Westfield 3rd Graders Receive Top Honors at Mock Trial Competition

Westfield third graders recently received top honors for three mock court cases they presented at the New Jersey Bar Foundation Law Fair.

“I am proud that, out of 84 entries submitted, our third grade students (now fourth graders) in the Gifted Program have won 1st Place, 2nd Place and Honorable Mention in the 3rd Grade category [of the Law Fair ...

Maximizing Your Portfolio’s Returns -- Beware the Taxman

The old adage in the investment world is that it is not what you make, but what you keep that counts.  Investors often overlook the ultimate deflator of portfolio returns – the taxman. An astute global asset allocation should be the number one priority for investors.  However, there are preferred ways to distribute this asset allocation over the spectrum of taxable and ...

Greatness

In honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's (of righteous memory) 24th  Yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) this coming Saturday the 16th.

Excerpts from an address given by Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel on April 7, 1992, at a congressional dinner held in Washington on the occasion of the Rebbe's 90th birthday.

Some of you are aware of my admiration, not only ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...

Is Summer Camp the Right Choice for My Child?

Is your child attending camp this summer? Is it their first experience away?  If yes, it can be an experience causing anxiety for you, for the parent and the child. 

This experience can be frightening to your child if it is their first time and it is so important that they do not see your worry or anxiety about leaving home for the first time… especially if it is sleep ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Bridgewater Mall Shut Down for 2 Hours After Fight Breaks Out

June 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported after a fight involving a crowd of people shut down the Bridgewater Commons Mall for two hours Thursday evening.

According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall was resuming normal business operations.

According to Somerset County ...

Obituaries

Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more