The Rules: Garden State Craft Brewers Craft A Best Practices Document

If you spend any time at New Jersey’s brewery tasting rooms, you’ve surely noticed some differences from those in PA. No dining. No entertainment. No food trucks. Well, maybe some food trucks.

In some ways, New Jersey brewers have been left to interpret the state’s two-year-old law that allows them to sell pints of beer and has led to the proliferation of tasting rooms and new breweries across the state. But because the law was met with opposition from the restaurant association, it prohibits food service and entertainment at breweries that aren’t brewpubs. However, the law left some grey area and some room to make one’s own decisions about how strictly to follow the law.

After several months of internal head scratching and dissent, the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild has issued a best practices document that should bring some consistency to the tasting room experience.

Most notably:

* Breweries can serve free snacks like pretzels, and customers can bring in their own food. There’s still no paid food service allowed.

* Food trucks are not allowed to operate on brewery property unless there’s a private event being held.

* Tasting rooms have to close by 10 pm unless the local municipality sets an earlier time.

* Bar games like pool and ping-pong aren’t allowed, nor are TVs broadcasting live events like sports.

But hey, ping-pong and tater tots aren’t everything, right? There are still plenty of reasons to hang out at a local NJ brewery (like the beer). These may still be early days when it comes to tasting rooms in New Jersey, but some change is better than no change, right? And however you look at it, this still represents progress in the right direction.

And hey, most of these tasting rooms are family-friendly, too, so bring the kids and some snacks and wile away an afternoon.