Tap about to run dry on loosening restrictions in NJ's craft beer industry

Starting Jan. 1, breweries will once again face strong limits on entertainment dates, food sales, events and more.

Jim Murdoch

Dec 26, 2023, 10:22 PM

Updated 181 days ago


The tap is about to run dry on the loosening of restrictions in the craft beer industry.
Starting Jan. 1, breweries will once again face strong limits on entertainment dates, food sales, events and more, after Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed a bill last month.
“Hey, in a few more days, these laws get rolled back and everything goes back to the stone age," says brewery owner Jason Goldstein.
Goldstein owns Icarus Brewery in Lakewood and is a member of the Brewers Guild of New Jersey.
When News 12 last visited the Lakewood brewing company four weeks ago following that veto, the hope was a deal would be in place before the new year.
As breweries try to map out an uncertain 2024 events calendar, time is running out.
“Once Jan. 1 happens, we are back in prohibition area pretty much,” said Goldstein.
Back in July, Trenton gave breweries a waiver to temporarily lift restrictions on food and entertainment.
The Legislature then passed a bill to reverse a lot of those restrictions but was vetoed by Gov. Murphy last month.  Murphy wants sweeping changes to the industry included in the bill.
“The amount of people reaching out to us saying hey do you have the new location opening? We want to host our wedding rehearsal, birthday, whatever and all of a sudden it’s like I don’t know,” added Goldstein.
On a recent News 12 Power and Politics, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said negotiations continue.
“It’s important that we get this right and continue to move forward. This is a step forward and we are going to get something done,” said Coughlin.
State Sen. Vin Gopal tells News 12 he’s confident a deal will be reached during lame duck.
State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon criticized the governor’s veto.
“It's simply outrageous that the governor didn't sign the original bill when it landed on his desk back in June and let these small businesses twist in the wind all summer. It'll be outrageous once again if the Legislature can't figure out how to come to an understanding with the governor's CV terms and concur finally by the end of session in the next two weeks. Get the damned thing done already!,” said O’Scanlon.
Gov. Murphy had no comment, but a representative said to check back in with them later this week.
Jason just hopes brewers like himself will hear something before the end of the week.
“To be held hostage like this, to be told hey you did everything you were supposed to do but we’ll see if it actually matters or not that’s tough," he says. 

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