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Brewers Guild Of New Jersey Separates from New Jersey Brewers Association

New Jersey Craft Brewery Attorneys

Prior to just recently, New Jersey Limited Breweries, commonly referred to as a Craft Brewery or Microbrewery, were unified under the New Jersey Brewers Association. However, a new association was formed, known as the Brewers Guild of New Jersey. This new guild has announced that the following breweries will be part of the founding membership: Cape May, Flying Fish Brewing Company, Kane Brewing Company, Carton Brewing Company, Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, Riverhorse Brewing Company, Cricket Hill Brewing Company, Beach Haus Brewing Company and Spellbound Brewing Company. Membership in the Brewers Guild of New Jersey will be open to state-licensed craft breweries and brewpubs that sold at least 2,000 barrels of beer the previous year.

Why the Separation?

Most of the founding member breweries in the Brewers Guild of New Jersey were previously part of the leadership within the New Jersey Brewers Association. Moreover, they were critical in enacting New Jersey’s 2013 legislation that permitted on-site tastings at these Limited Breweries (a crucial change to the law that has allowed these breweries to grow exponentially). However, Limited Breweries were under fire from retail consumption licenses (restaurants/bars) as well as the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control because of perceived failures by these Limited Breweries in complying with the “tasting” requirements. Specifically, concerns were raised regarding whether or not these craft breweries were providing tours (as required under law before patrons may consume alcohol on-site) and the fact that some breweries were providing “entertainment” in their tastings rooms (something that was impermissible under the 2013 legislation).

In response to inquiries regarding the separation, Cape May Brewing Co. co-founder and CEO Ryan Krill said the new trade group was created to “make sure that we have a trade group that represents us. We’re concerned that we’re not going to have an opportunity to talk about things that are important us like franchise reform, maintaining self-distribution rights, talking about forming strategies for things on the horizon, like addressing e-commerce. That’s at the forefront of our agenda.” It appears as though there was a divide amongst the leadership of the New Jersey Brewers Association prior to the split. The new guild is comprised of the large-scale craft breweries in New Jersey. These breweries are likely more concerned with enacting legislation surrounding self-distribution and state/federal tax relief as opposed the on-site consumption issues of the small-scale craft breweries.

NJ Limited Brewery License

Under Title 33, New Jersey residents interested in starting their own microbrewery can apply for a Limited Brewery license. A limited Brewery license is a Class A Manufacturer License which permits the the production of up to 300,000 barrels of 31 gallons of malt alcoholic beverage annually.  These Limited Breweries were treated similar to traditional Breweries and required to sell and distribute their product to licensed wholesalers and retailers. Moreover, on-site consumption of “samples” required the issuance of a special permit from the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.  Thanks to recent legislation, these Limited Breweries may now offer on-site consumption in their “tasting rooms”, as well as on-site purchase for off-site consumption (similar to a retailer). However, these tastings must be preceded by a “tour” for the consumer. Currently, the license application fees for the Limited Brewery License in New Jersey range from $1,250.00 to $7,500.00, depending on production capacity.

For more information on obtaining a New Jersey Manufacturing License, contact our office.

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