Cheers! New Jersey’s Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee voted 5-0 last week in favor of bill A2196. The bill is designed, among other things, to eliminate the current “mandatory tour” obligation imposed upon New Jersey’s craft brewers. Under the current state of the law, craft brewers are required to provide a tour of their facilities each and every time a patron enters the premises to purchase the breweries’ products for on-site consumption – whether it is the individuals first or one-hundredth time visiting the facility. If passed, the pending legislation will alleviate craft breweries of this oft-criticized requirement in the hopes of placing New Jersey brewers on par with their competitors in neighboring states where such tours are not required.
As the bill continues to gain steam among craft brewers, many New Jersey bars and restaurants have expressed opposition. These groups fear that the bill will provide breweries with an end-run around the steep costs of obtaining liquor licenses and thereby unfairly compete in the market.
At the present time, the bill is awaiting a second reading before the State Assembly.