Booze And Politics In New Jersey: Tom Kean’s New Brewery Bills

New Jersey's craft brewing laws are set to modernize again.

capeMayBrewinglogoThree years after overhauling New Jersey’s brewery laws for the first time since Prohibition, state lawmakers are trying to modernize the system a little more. On Tuesday, Republican Senate Leader Tom Kean is touring Cape May Brewing to applaud its most recent expansion and promote a package of brewery bills he’s sponsoring. (Note: this is not open to the public.)

Kean’s bills, which enjoy bipartisan support, help the brewing industry gain parity with the wine industry–which historically has had more leeway to sell more of its products in more places. Specifically, his bills aim to accomplish three things: in-state breweries could sell beer at farmers markets, brewpubs could self-distribute limited quantities to retailers in and out of state, and brewery visitors could bring in food–which would presumably allow for on-premise food trucks for the first time.

Currently, breweries can’t sell food (a concession to the restaurant association) but the law doesn’t specify whether visitors can bring food in. In an admitted overabundance of caution, the Garden State Brewers Guild discourages its members from allowing food trucks or encouraging take-out or delivery.

Kean is promoting his bills as a jobs package, noting that New Jersey’s brewing industry contributes $776.9 million in annual economic impact to the state.