The Brew Club is happy to have Mike Pellegrino, author of the new book Jersey Brew, The Story of Beer in New Jersey submit this excellent post regarding beer and beer laws in New Jersey.
Jersey Brew is a history of beer in New Jersey from the Colonial times to the present. (Yes there are mobsters) Jersey Brew, The Story of Beer in New Jersey
will be available in November, 2009, and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com and BeerBooks.com now. You’ll also want to stick around for the upcoming interview with Mike about his book in the near future!!!
The beer story in New Jersey today is craft-brewing, but there is a clear bias against our State’s microbreweries. New Jersey’s laws place our five breweries at financial and marketing disadvantages as compared to our wineries. There is no legitimate basis for this bias, and the laws should be changed to even the playing field or perhaps even assist our local breweries.
Wineries are regulated under the same group of statutes, yet wine is treated more favorably. The simplest example of this disparity is the fees charged for licensing. As listed above, the licensing fee for an unlimited plenary brewer’s license is $10,625. A plenary license to produce unlimited wine under N.J.S.A. 33:1-10(2) (a) costs just $938. The license fee for even a restricted brew pub is more than that ($1,250 to $2,500).
Another, more significant example of the bias against beer is the limitation on over-the-counter sales. Wineries are granted unlimited direct sales while breweries are limited by permit to just two-six packs per customer per day. This is a harmful limitation because wineries and microbreweries both offer tours as a marketing strategy. Wineries can generate significant revenue by selling cases of wine at the conclusion of its tours, while New Jersey’s craft brewers cannot. Why was this distinction created?
Perhaps the most harmful difference in treatment is the ban on free samples. New Jersey residents have been inundated with commercials for the mega-breweries like Bud, Coors and Heineken, so most people buy beer without considering smaller brands. The challenge for microbreweries is simply to get the public to try their beers. People who try the local beer generally will buy it again.
An effective marketing technique would be to offer small samples in liquor stores, the way wine-makers often do. For reasons unknown, however, New Jersey law prohibits breweries from offering free beer samples in liquor stores. N.J.S.A. 33:1-12 was amended in 2003 to specifically allow free consumer wine samplings in stores – but not beer.
So what do you think? Do New Jersey Legislators prefer wine over beer?