Bill could end craft brewery tour requirement in New Jersey

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BELMAR -

A new bill working its way through the New Jersey Legislature could change the way craft beer breweries operate in the Garden State.

Current state laws require breweries to give customers a tour of the brewery before they are allowed to taste and purchase beer.

Brewery owners say that the mandate can be a burden on their customers who have to take the tour every time they come in, especially if they visit several breweries in a single outing.

“We have six breweries in the immediate area here. Who wants six tours of six breweries in one afternoon?” asks Gretchen Schmidhausler, owner of Little Dog Brewing in Neptune City.

There are 86 craft breweries in New Jersey, all of which have a limited brewer’s license, which allows them to make beer and have a tasting room. They can’t serve food or liquor.

Assembly Bill 2196 would eliminate the mandatory tour of the facility.

"I think the consumer wins because the repeat folks, they can talk to folks in the tap room or me about the new beers,” says John Merklin, owner of Beach Haus Brewery in Belmar.

The bill would also reduce some of the paperwork necessary each month and would allow brewers to file electronically.

"I have to list all of my brands and I have to list the prices,” Schmidhausler

New Jersey wineries are not required to provide tours, nor are breweries in neighboring states.

The state Assembly will debate on the bill Thursday.

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