Trouble Brewing: New Jersey Dems Ban Microbreweries From Hosting Happy Hour, Serving Cocktails

Karen Heuwetter prepares beer orders prior to taking their two dogs Buddy and Barley on a beer delivery drive to their customers on May 03, 2020, in Huntington Village, New York. / Getty Images
July 12, 2022

New Jersey’s Democratic state government imposed new restrictions on breweries in July, banning happy hours and prohibiting them from serving mixed drinks.

New Jersey brewers under the regulations must also give tours to all customers and will only be able to hold 25 pre-advertised events per year. The state government is prohibiting collaboration with food trucks and the sale of food that is not pre-packaged, such as crackers or chips. The New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control said allowing microbreweries to operate in their current capacity gives them an unfair advantage over traditional restaurants. A spokesman for the division told the Philly Voice the updated regulations"strike a fair and appropriate balance" between restaurants and craft breweries, many of which are family-owned.

"They are crippling the breweries by telling us we can't have events, we can’t do fun things," one brewer told a Philadelphia NBC affiliate. "Why is anyone going to want to come here?"

Ed Gangi, owner of the Cricket Hill Brewery in Fairfield, told the Washington Free Beacon his business "has been through a lot."

"The industry dealt with COVID for 2 plus years, currently inflation and supply cost increases, now the restrictions on our day-to-day business," Gangi said. "It's time for the N.J. legislature to modernize the brewery laws and allow us to survive. Without change, we're going backward."

Some critics of the regulations have argued that they will stem economic growth in the Garden State. Following its strict lockdown policies, New Jersey already has a growth rate trailing the nation at large.

Mike Testa, a Republican state senator, introduced a bill last week to combat the new prohibitions.

"These breweries, like most small businesses, suffered under Governor Murphy’s pandemic shutdowns and restrictions," Testa said in a press release. "To increase their burden with these new rules only adds insult to injury."