New Limits on Craft Breweries Suspended

Less than two weeks after issuing new regulations for craft breweries, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control has announced it will suspend enforcement of the special ruling.

A selection of beers awaits tasters at the Beach Haus Taproom.
Photo by Joe Polillio

On Tuesday afternoon, more than a week after issuing new regulations regarding limited brewery licenses, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) announced it would suspend enforcement of the ruling.

The “special ruling,” issued September 21, was meant to clarify the 2012 amendment, which created limited brewery licenses designed to help the state’s craft beer industry grow and allowed breweries to sell pints in conjunction with a tour instead of limiting visitors to a few free sample ounces. As a result of the amendment, the New Jersey craft beer industry experienced tremendous growth, contributing benefits such as revitalizing communities and business districts, increasing beverage tourism across the state, and the creation of more jobs.

Last month’s special ruling introduced new regulations for microbreweries in New Jersey that included capping the number of on-site events “such as trivia night, paint and sip, live music, live sporting events and yoga night” to 25 events a year; capping the number of private on-site parties to 52 a year; and limiting breweries to 12 special permits a year that would enable them to sell products off brewery premises at festivals and athletic events.

Frustrated beer advocates and fans spoke out against the special ruling, stating the rules went too far and would damage New Jersey’s still-developing craft beer industry. The public outcry resulted in a petition that attracted more than 25,000 signatures.

On Monday, Governor Phil Murphy expressed his misgivings about the special ruling during a Facebook Live town hall. “I’m not sure that’s the right, sensible step to take,” Murphy said. “The craft beer industry has sort of taken a real hold in our state. It’s become a source of great sort of pride.”

Less than 24 hour later, the ABC announced it was suspending enforcement of the limitations, pending additional study.

“We want to make sure that we get this right,” said ABC Director David Rible in a statement. “We are committed to supporting the state’s growing craft beer industry, while also balancing the concerns of other stakeholders and ensuring compliance with state law.”

“Since last week, I’ve expressed concerns about unintended consequences of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s special ruling,” Murphy tweeted in response. “I applaud today’s decision and look forward to continuing to support our vibrant craft beer industry.”

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