New Jersey Cracks Down on Breweries for Hosting Trivia Nights, Serving Food
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey refused to allow breweries to deliver their brews to people’s houses, even though taprooms were forced to close on account of stay-at-home orders. Now, state regulators are primed to deliver the coup de grâce in their anti-beer campaign.
On July 1, the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) finally implemented its long-delayed, long-dreaded “special ruling” on craft breweries. First proposed in 2018, the rules caused an immediate firestorm in the local brewing community and were temporarily withdrawn. Re-introduced in 2019, the rules were scheduled to go into effect in 2020 but were suspended when COVID-19 hit.
The rules themselves are almost beyond parody. The headline restriction is that breweries will be limited to hosting a mere 25 on-premise “special events” per calendar year. What constitutes a special event? Pretty much anything you can imagine, so long as it’s advertised and promoted, including beer yoga classes, trivia nights, or even a brewery deciding to broadcast a championship sporting event on its TVs.
If an event is not promoted or advertised, it apparently does not count against the 25-event cap, although it’s unclear why a brewery would bother hosting weekly trivia if it can’t tell its customer base when to show up.
Restricting such events puts a damper on potential on-premise taproom sales, undermining the brewery’s ability to act as a community hub and gathering place. The event cap also disproportionately punishes the most vulnerable members of the state’s brewing community, since many small microbreweries and nanobreweries exclusively sell beer from their on-premise taprooms, eschewing distribution to stores or bars altogether.
Breweries are also restricted to hosting 52 “private parties” per year, such as birthday parties or corporate events. But the New Jersey ABC makes clear that it will allow patrons attending a private party to bring their own beer and wine to the events. Why a brewery would want to host a party where someone else’s beer is served goes unexplained. All events, whether they are a “special event” or a “private party,” must be manually entered onto the DABC website at least 10 days in advance.
The rules add teeth to a previously implemented but rarely enforced requirement that breweries provide tours to all taproom guests before
Article from Reason.com