New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Signs Liquor Modernization Legislation Into Law

Link to article beer in brewery with B.A. logo and new jersey brewers guild association logos
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Governor Phil Murphy (R-N.J.) signed Bill S4265 / A5912 into law on January 16, signaling a new era of liquor enforcement in the Garden State and ending the threat of draconian restrictions on small and independent craft breweries that have loomed over the industry for years.

The Brewers Association (BA) was honored to help the Brewers Guild of New Jersey (BGNJ) and New Jersey Brewers Association (NJBA) in this effort. BA grassroots efforts helped prompt more than 9,000 supporters to send an astounding 35,698 emails to assembly members and senators urging them to support the bills. Another 1,482 supporters sent 4,426 messages to Governor Murphy to sign the bill, seeking relief on behalf of the breweries they know and love in their communities.

While the new law will have an impact across segments of the beverage alcohol industry, for brewers the results will be felt immediately by permanently setting aside restrictions on the books that have stifled small producers, hampering their ability to compete against burgeoning industries in neighboring states. Those restrictions would have severely curtailed New Jersey brewers’ ability to entertain customers, hold special events, and otherwise make full use of their breweries. The law also eliminates the long-standing burden that required limited breweries to provide tours of the premises to patrons, while also allowing them to:

  • Offer snacks and other non-alcoholic beverages;
  • Collaborate with outside vendors including food trucks;
  • Host unlimited onsite events and private parties, including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and civic and political functions;
  • Host up to 25 offsite special events; and
  • Participate in up to 25 events hosted by the holder of a social affairs permit.

The new law increases the number of barrels that brewpubs may manufacture per year from 10,000 to 300,000 and allows this segment of license holders to directly sell and distribute 50% of the beer produced on premises in each year to retailers, rather than having to rely solely on wholesalers. It also establishes a new farm-brewery license that would permit the licensee to produce beer for retail sale to consumers for consumption off the licensed premises.

“Clarifying the rights and privileges afforded to craft breweries in our state will give our industry a stronger foundation to operate on moving forward. The legislation allows all state craft beverage manufacturers more opportunities to deliver both the unique products and experiences our customers deserve in our tasting rooms and throughout our communities,” said Eric Orlando, executive director BGNJ. “Governor Murphy’s approval will most certainly set New Jersey’s craft beer industry on a positive trajectory for years to come and shows the state’s commitment towards embracing the ingenuity and local pride which are at the core of every craft brewery which calls the Garden State home.”

New Jersey is just one state where the BA is working with the state’s brewer’s organization and membership to change laws and regulations to benefit small and independent brewers.