For Immediate Release
November 28th, 2023
Statement of Brewers Guild of New Jersey Regarding Governor Murphy’s Conditional Veto of Senate Bill 3038 / Assembly Bill 4630 (S-3038/A-4630)
Trenton — November 28th, 2023 — Governor Phil Murphy has conditionally vetoed S-3038/A-4630, attaching language to the bill impacting the state’s estimated 1,400 “pocket” liquor licenses, and creating a shopping mall “special alcohol permit” to allow restaurants and food courts in these facilities the ability to sell alcohol for consumption on-premise. The conditional veto would also allow annual license fees to be increased on all craft alcoholic beverage manufacturers in the state by the NJ Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (NJABC). While the Governor has called for the end of brewery restrictions, he, himself calls unfair and burdensome, he has elected to not sign a bill unanimously passed by the Legislature with broad industry and public support which aims to remove the very barriers he asked the Legislature to fix earlier this year. While disappointed in the Governor’s action, the Guild is not deterred and intends to continue to advocate for brewery law changes until they are accomplished.
“I understand the Governor is trying to fix a broader system which needs long, overdue changes,” said Scott Wells, Owner of Bolero Snort Brewery in Carlstadt and Board Member of the Brewers Guild of New Jersey, “but including common sense reforms for our industry alongside reforms impacting liquor licenses which are highly controversial could hurt any chances of New Jersey’s craft beer industry being unshackled from our needless restrictions and allowed to realize its full potential.”
The inclusion of reforms like those in the conditional veto of S-3038/A-4630 has put local breweries in the crosshairs of some local retailers for months. These retailers are increasingly deciding not to support local products as retribution for what they perceive to be local craft breweries’ advocacy for wholesale changes to our state’s liquor license laws. While the Guild and its members believe there is merit in changing aspects of the state’s alcohol retail system, it remains a question as to whether the Governor’s latest set of proposals have enough support from the Legislature to pass by the end of the current legislative session.
“We’re finding more and more bars and liquor stores refusing to carry any local craft beers, even if we’ve worked with them for years. They’re viewing breweries as enemies, thinking that we’re to blame for legislation other than our own.” said Jason Goldstein, Operations Manager and Founder of Icarus Brewing Company in Lakewood, a Guild member. “Breweries face unfair laws and regulations that not only make it difficult for consumers to enjoy our products onsite, but also harder to find our beers at bars, restaurants, and liquor stores near them. Altogether, it’s a death sentence for many of our local breweries.”
With state brewery restrictions set to kick back in January 1st, 2024 prior to the end of the “lame duck” legislation session, New Jersey breweries are on the brink of more of the same in the coming weeks and months, placing the industry again in peril until its laws are permanently changed.
Founded in 2018, the Brewers Guild of New Jersey (BGNJ) was established to better represent the policy interests of New Jersey’s pioneering independent craft breweries and brewpubs in the region’s ultra-competitive alcoholic beverage market. The Guild’s membership is the foundation of today’s New Jersey craft beer industry. Our brewery members positively stimulate local economies and have earned national recognition for their critically-acclaimed ales and lagers. Please find more information at https://www.brewersguildnj.com/