Friday, June 3, 2011

Make the guild fest a rally point

Philly Beer Week kicks off tonight with an opening-tap shindig at the Independence Visitors Center.

For folks in South Jersey, and even for beer fans north of I-195, PBW is a big attraction. Be that as it may, let's still think there's no place like home.

And with that, here's a reminder that the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild festival is only two weeks away.

Yes, it's at the Camden waterfront, aboard the USS New Jersey battleship museum again, and, yes, that has been a thorn for some North Jersey beer drinkers. (We've always supported the idea of having two festivals – spring/summer and fall, one in South Jersey, the other in North Jersey).

But there is something in the air this year that makes showing support for the home-state brewers all the more important: legislation in Trenton to level the playing field for New Jersey brewers and modernize the rules under which they make and sell beer.

Senate bill S2870, and its Assembly counterpart, A3969, would put the state's 15-year-old craft beer industry on par with that of Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania, not to mention pretty much the rest of the country.

Imagine being able to buy your favorite beer from your favorite brewpub at a Canal's, Liquor Outlet or Total Wine. Imagine a BYOB restaurant selling you a six-pack of your favorite locally made beer, instead of you having to bring it in tow.

That's some of what the legislation would allow. (The Assembly version, by the way, has picked up two new sponsors: Jon M. Bramnick, a Republican from Westfield, and Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., a Democrat from South Plainfield.)

So let this video of last year's Garden State Craft Brewers festival, together with this year's upcoming festival, be a rallying point and a reminder that change is in the air.

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