TRENTON – Competiton for certain alcoholic drinks will surely brew more under a bill released by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Monday afternoon enabling breweries to increase annual production levels of their product by 66 percent and directly sell their products.
The bill, S641, permits limited breweries to increase their annual production from 300,000 to 500,000 barrels annually. Also, breweries could sell their products at retail to consumers on the licensed premises of the brewery for consumption on or off the premises, and to offer samples, the bill states.
The bill revises the fee for licensees who produce certain quantities: the fee to produce up to 300,000 barrels annually would be $5,000 and to brew up to 500,000 barrels annually would be $7,500.
Presently, New Jersey has seven production breweries and 17 brew pubs.
The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild supports the bill.
Presently, New Jersey ranks 32nd in craft beer production, whereas nearby states like New York and Delaware are in the single digits, the bill states.
“We look at New Jersey as a great opportunity for restaurants,” said Mark Edelson, who owns the Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Maple Shade. He said his brewpub helped create some 100 jobs.
The New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance, which represents 1,500 retailers, also supports the bill.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-21) of Westfield, the bill’s sponsor, said there is broad support for it, adding that the New Jersey Restaurant Association’s fear about the bill putting them at a disadvantage is “somewhat overstated.”
Among the brewery bill’s other ingredients are:
*Enabling “limited breweries” to sell products to consumers at retail in original packages in 10 salesrooms for drinking on or off the premises and to offer samples, at a fee of $250 for each salesroom.
*Increasing the amount of malt alcoholic beverages that may be produced by a restricted brewery from 3,000 to 10,000 barrels annually. Under current law, a restricted brewery must be operated in conjunction with a restaurant which is immediately adjoining the restricted brewery premises, and the brewery product only may be delivered to that restaurant premises.
*Enabling breweries to sell their products at another restaurant they own which is not a restricted brewery.
*Lowering the licensee fee from $625 to $250 for every additional 1,000 barrels produced.
*Offering samples of their products off the licensed premises if the licensee obtains an annual permit issued by the director. The bill also permits a restricted brewery licensee to obtain a limited brewery license for the same premises licensed as a restricted brewery.
Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19) of Woodbridge, who sponsored a sister bill, A1277, said brewpubs are part of a growing, competitive industry and more must be done to keep them in New Jersey.