The legislation to modernize New Jersey's regulations for its craft beer industry has picked up another sponsor.
Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, a Democrat from Hudson County, is the latest lawmaker to get behind A3969, which with companion bill S2870, would give the state's craft brewers some business freedoms already enjoyed by Garden State wine-makers and craft brewers from surrounding states.
Quigley, who serves the state's 32nd legislative district, counts among her constituents production brewer New Jersey Beer Company, which is located in North Bergen.
With the process of making laws, there's strength in numbers – the more sponsors, the greater the chance bills will be posted for floor votes in each legislative chamber, and the better their prospects for passage. Quigley is the fourth assembly member to sign on, joining Craig Coughlin, Jon Bramnick and Patrick Diegnan Jr. The Senate version right now has two sponsors: Tom Kean Jr. and Donald Norcross.
To recap, the legislation would:
- Remove the arbitrary two-brewpub limit per owner. For instance, say you already own the Ship Inn; you can open one more brewpub and that's it. No matter how savvy of a business person you are or how many jobs you pledge to create, or how much you vow to buy from local suppliers, you max out at two. How many other businesses can you think of that the state limits you to a mere two locations?
- Allow small breweries to sell beer directly to consumers from their brewery locations. (Right now, breweries can sell two six-packs or two growlers, that's it.)
- Allow small brewers to sell their product at 10 locations across the state directly to consumers. This relates to BYOB restaurants. Wineries already have this privilege, and it hasn't hurt bars or packaged goods stores (the former can always put the beer on tap or stock the bottles; the latter can probably price competitively.)
- Allow small breweries and brew pubs to offer samples to consumers both at their breweries or off-site, such as at charity events and festivals.
- Allow brewpubs to sell their beer at other bars and restaurants that they own but do not have a brewery on-site, yet have a retail consumption license.
- Allow brewpubs to sell their beer off premise, through distributors, in the same manner as production breweries. Imagine going to Canal's and finding your favorite Bittings, Gaslight or Tun Tavern brew on the shelf, or laying hands on an Iron Hill brew at a store in North Jersey. If you need a clear example for this, think of Pennsylvania's Sly Fox, which has brewery-restaurants and also does production brewing. Think Sly Fox again, because a diversified revenue stream (as opposed to relying on just foot traffic into the establishment for your revenue, like Garden State brewpubs have to) makes for a healthy company. Which is why Sly Fox just announced plans to triple their production capacity (yeah, it means shutting the Royersford restaurant-brewery, but they'll be opening a bigger production brewery.)
- Increase the amount of craft beer that both production breweries and brewpubs could produce annually.