Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Holy flurcking shnit!!!

Hey homebrewers, do you know your ABC?

Yeah, those state beer police you never thought you had to worry about when you struck a mash in your back yard.

Turns out the State of New Jersey requires a permit to brew at home, 15 bucks. Son of a &%$@$!!! This is something we stumbled across while poking around on the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s Web site.

Here's the form in all it's glory, but you can also find online here.

First off, do they enforce this? Thankfully, apparently (or hopefully) not. Haven't read about, nor heard of, anyone getting pinched for it. No one we initially asked today knew about it. And we never, ever had one, nor did the nice folks at the Red Bank homebrew supply shop on Monmouth Street ever say “you need this” when they sold us the starter kit 15 years ago. (For the record, we didn’t call ABC about it. Not going to, either. Beyond this blog post, why alert them to an army of homebrewers defying them?) However, Dan Soboti of the Gaslight brewpub in South Orange, which also has a homebrew supply shop, says the permit has been around for quite some time, but shop owners aren't required to check patrons for them. Dan says they keep copies on hand for patrons to deal with on their own. (For the record, Beercrafters in Turnersville was unaware of it.)

We thought it may have been something new (1/08 – January 2008? – appears in small print below the signature line), but then it seems old. Who except the most Internet/graphically challenged person would create a modern application form using ugly-ass Courier New as a typeface? (FYI: Courier New resembles typewriter fonts, that's old school, baby.)

Secondly, what the f*%k?!?! How is it the State of New Jersey can shake you down to use your kitchen and back yard for the same ingredients as bread, just because you’re adding yeast at a different moment? OK, yeah, you intended to make beer from the get-go when you bought 12 pounds of Maris Otter pale malt and a pound of 40 Lovibond crystal, but still, what the f*%k?!?! In your own home? In this country? In a state with Colonial/Revolutionary heritage, where making beer at home is damned near birthright handed down by Founding Fathers? Richard Stockton and William Paterson are probably rolling over in their graves (assuming anyone in Ben Franklin's orbit automatically tipped a tankard).

Thirdly, it gets worse. Read the permit: The beer you make is for consumption only at the address where you made it. So if enforced, that could mean no giving it to friends, taking it to parties, or son of a &%$@$!!! going to Homebrew Day! (The application even asks if you have any ownership stakes in or employment at a brewery, and requires it be named.)

Consider this a tax (voluntary, if unenforced) on homebrewers (and home winemakers, because guess what, there’s a permit for that, too! Son of a &%$@$!!!). Not to mention an intrusion into your home. Or more cynically, it's a backdoor tactic for knowing who's got booze so the Nanny State can ferret out anyone who has the capacity to serve to minors. But we won't go there.

Enforced or not, it needs to go, be stricken from the books. Everyone knows New Jersey is broke, but hitting homebrewers for an apparently one-time 15 bucks ain’t gonna cover the red ink by any stretch of the imagination. Or fund ABC.

New Jersey's commercial beer regulations are known to be overbearing, business-strangling and otherwise screwed up. But what the f*%k?!?!


Unknown said...

This is most definitely not anything new:


That information is from 1995. Nobody I know has a permit, and when I asked a Trooper friend of mine, they laughed. I think it's more of a deterrent.

Tom E said...

Yeah, I wouldn't fret much over this. I saw it too a while back, doing the same thing as you, Jeff - poking around the ABC documents. (By the way, the ABC handbook is a facinating read if you're ever interested in torturing yourself.) I don't know anyone who has one or anyone who's ever heard a peep about it being enforced.

Unknown said...

not only does the permit only allow you to serve it at the location brewed, but then the New Jersey State Fair encourages you to break the law by submitting entries to their home brew competition. bout time that permit goes!!!

Anonymous said...


Yeah. It's been a law for a while. The story i heard was that it one the concessions to legalizing homebrewing - we can make money on the license.

I don't know a single homebrewer that has bought this. Rest easy!

Sorry I wasn't able to make the Newark fest due to other commitments. Great footage though.Sounds like the Tun Tavern was quite the bash. I think the last time I was there for a big crowd was after the Celebration of the Suds (probably a mistake!!)


Anonymous said...

I actually paid for the permit like a schmuck just before I signed on to teach a homebrewing class at an adult school. Oh well, it's expired now so I can brew on the wrong side of the law like the rest of you.

Jeff Linkous said...


It sucks the state would even take your money when the majority of homebrewers ignore this fee.

The real crappy part is, with a 5-gallon batch of beer, what do you have? A couple of cases, something you can buy at a liquor store without a permit. In the end, the state is charging you for cooking in your own home. Funny how the federal law requires no fee, but New Jersey attempts to nickel and dime honest folks.

This stupid permit, enforced or not, needs to be stricken from the books.