Bill would permit microbreweries to increase production while cutting some fees

Fans of craft beer, you might want to lift a pint for this legislation.

A bill has been introduced that would allow microbreweries to increase production while reducing some fees.

Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin, (D-19), Middlesex, announced Friday he has introduced legislation that would revise restrictions on New Jersey’s microbreweries and brewpubs, making it easier to offer their product to the public and enhancing their appeal as tourist destinations.

“Like much of the rest of the country, New Jersey is experiencing a craft beer brewing renaissance,” said Coughlin in a release.  “The appeal of these regional beers are making microbreweries and brewpubs tourist destinations.  To help these small businesses capitalize on their newfound popularity, we need to update the state’s antiquated laws regarding micro-brewing.”

New Jersey is home to more than 16 microbreweries and brewpubs.  Coughlin’s legislation, A3969, would update New Jersey’s existing brewing laws, granting microbreweries and brewpubs many of the same rights enjoyed by New Jersey’s local wineries.

Specifically, Coughlin’s bill would:

Increase the maximum annual allowable production for microbreweries from 300,000 barrels to 500,000 barrels (one barrel equals approx. 13.8 cases of 12 oz. bottles/cans of beer);

Amend the fees for producing said barrels – $5,000 for producing up to 300,000 barrels annually and $7,500 for producing up to 500,000 barrels annually;

Allow microbreweries to sell their products to consumers for consumption on or off the premises, meaning a microbrewery could have a sampling room with taps and bottles;

Allow microbreweries to sell their product in up to 10 salesrooms across the state apart from the brewery proper, for consumption on or off the premises, at a fee of $250 per location;

Allow microbreweries to offer product samples of an amount no larger than 4 oz. at the brewery and/or in the aforementioned salesrooms;

 Out-of-State microbreweries (maximum production of up to 500,000 barrels annually) would be allowed to apply to the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) for the ability to sell their product in up to 10 salesrooms across the state, for consumption on or off the premises, at a fee of $250 per location;

Increase the maximum annual allowable production for brewpubs from 3,000 to 10,000 barrels;

Reduce to $250 from $625 the fee for every additional production of 1,000 barrels of beer over the first 1,000 for brewpubs;

Allow the owners of brewpubs to sell beer brewed on premises at other non-brewpub restaurants that they own; and

Remove the two liquor license cap per single entity for brewpub owners seeking to purchase additional restaurants in which to sell their product.

“Drinking beer is no longer considered a blue collar pastime,” said Coughlin.  “By making these changes to our brewing laws, we can help better promote New Jersey’s existing breweries and attract new brewers looking to make their mark on the world of craft beer.”

  Bill would permit microbreweries to increase production while cutting some fees