MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

New Regulations Could Dry Up New Jersey's Microbreweries

Among many other rules, microbreweries will be allowed to put on only 25 events a year.

|||Kristen Prahl/Dreamstime.comKristen Prahl/Dreamstime.comNew Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has taken issue with his state's new regulations on microbreweries, saying he isn't sure that they were the "right, sensible step to take."

The Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC), which answers to the Department of Law and Public Safety, passed a special ruling in September that imposed new terms on licensed microbreweries. The enhanced regulations say the business cannot hold more than 25 special events each year. That includes trivia nights, televised sporting events, and classes for art and exercise. Breweries will receive just 12 special permits a year to sell their products offsite at beer festivals, music festivals, civic events, and the like. They'll also be limited to hosting 52 private parties per year—and they must notify the ABC 10 days before each event.

When the ABC decided to let the micobreweries serve beer onsite, the ruling states, it didn't intend to give them the "same privileges as a sports bar or restaurant." To rectify that alleged error, the agency now wants to set rules for "what constitutes an appropriate tour and what constitutes permissible activities."

As you'd expect, microbreweries have spoken out against the decision. A petition addressed to Murphy, his lieutenant governor, the president of the state senate, and the speaker of the general assembly notes that the ruling "severely harms the way breweries may interact with their customers and communities in their tap rooms"; it also argues that there is no "'one size fits all' mold for a craft brewery."

Murphy has not specified what he plans to do about the regulations, but hopefully he'll take strong action against them. New Jersey's craft brews may hang in the balance.

Bonus link: Craft beer isn't the only substance New Jersey officials want to limit. Just last year, the state legislature introduced a bill to ban flavored vaping liquid, hoping to keep kids away from e-cigarettes. But the state already prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 19, so the chief effect of such a law will be for adult vapers to be stuck with a disgusting, flavorless liquid.

Photo Credit: Kristen Prahl/Dreamstime.com

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Jerryskids||

    New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has taken issue with his state's new regulations on microbreweries, saying he isn't sure that they were the "right, sensible step to take."

    The Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC), which answers to the Department of Law and Public Safety, passed a special ruling in September that imposed new terms on licensed microbreweries.

    So the ABC answers to the LPS and not the governor? Who does the LPS answer to? What sort of strange system of government does New Jersey have where the governor isn't in charge of these agencies and the heads of these agencies? Can the New Jersey legislature rein them in or are they totally independent? Are they elected or appointed to their fiefdoms or is there some sort of ritual combat involved? So many questions!

  • Mallethead||

    Ding, you win a prize. LPS reports to the AG who is... drum roll... a gubernatorial appointment. So all the gov seems to need to do is send a memo saying -"no".

  • MoreFreedom||

    Never underestimate the desire of state busybodies to limit businesses. It used to be the Constitution limited government busybodies from interfering with out freedoms. But commerce is where the real money is: Willie Sutton was short sighted in thinking he should rob banks because that's where he thought the money is.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    You can be sure that it's the rent-seekers of traditional bars and liquor stores that are trying to limit the ability of breweries to *GASP* sell beer directly to customers!

    Never underestimate the power of lobbyists for a group of rent-seekers.

  • ||

    You can be sure that it's the rent-seekers of traditional bars and liquor stores that are trying to limit the ability of breweries to *GASP* sell beer directly to customers!

    IDK. I haven't polled the bars and liquor stores to see if they'd favor a "drop liquor licenses in exchange for dropping brewing licenses" quid pro quo. Not that they have a right to impose licenses and taxes on brewers but it's hard to say it's a win for liberty, especially if microbrewers are just pushing the same double-edged sword in the opposite direction (forcing bars and liquor stores to buy more expensive licenses to sell liquor more freely).

  • CE||

    No way. Bars and restaurants and liquor stores that already have liquor licenses want to make them harder to get for new would-be competitors.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Don't most of these microbreweries sell to their local bars and liquor shops? They do here in Texas, but it's quite possible that jersey has some special kind of stupidity where that isn't allowed. If they can sell, I would think shops would such brews. I also enjoy going to be places and trying to local beers,I can only assume their yokels try their own.

    And also, Yuengling is just ok. Shiner is better.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Some woman/activist tweeted recently that Kavanaugh should not be on the USSC, not because he lacked qualities but because he is very capable and would "dismantle the modern regulatory State with great efficiency."

    Sounds like an endorsement to me. I imagine the New Jersey breweries might agree, given that unfettered State regulation is going to run them out of business.

  • Juice||

    "same privileges as a sports bar or restaurant"

    Doing business is a privilege not a right. That's why there's a license and you have to ask permission. It's because you didn't build that.

  • Number 2||

    I am sure that whatever fix Murphy comes up with will involve the payment of a significant "special events fee" to the State. Tax and regulate, ya' know.

  • NoVaNick||

    I haven't seen too many craft beers from NJ, so my guess is most of them are small operations that will really be hit hard by this, and make sure Jerseyans can only choose between Bud Light and Coors

  • CE||

    In other words, the better connected restaurants and bars used their pull to get their buddies in the government to crack down on the growing popularity of microbreweries.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    "The enhanced regulations say the business cannot hold more than 25 special events each year. That includes trivia nights, televised sporting events, and classes for art and exercise."

    Jersey - we were once garden state, than the trash state, now we are the trash/we control everything state

  • laportama||

    Nanny nanny boo boo.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online