The Division of Alcohol Beverage Control reversed its decision to enforce new regulations of microbreweries.

More than a week after levying a special ruling against microbreweries in New Jersey, the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control is putting new regulations directed to the industry on hold.

ABC Director David Rible announced Tuesday the division would not enforce the special ruling issued in September that issued new regulations to businesses holding a limited brewery license.

“We want to make sure that we get this right,” Rible said. “We are committed to supporting the state’s growing craft beer industry, while also balancing the concerns of other stakeholders and ensuring compliance with state law.”

Rible says suspending the special ruling will once again allow the ABC, craft brewers, legislators, alcohol beverage license holders, and other people affected by the division’s decision to continue discussions to see if changes need to be made to the 2012 law that paved the way for so many new microbreweries to open across the state.

Some of the new regulations the breweries had to follow as a result of the special ruling included limiting the establishments to 52 private parties a year, 25 “special events,” and 12 events where the breweries can sell beer off-premises.

Murphy says new N.J. craft brewery restrictions hard to swallow

Earlier on Tuesday, state legislative leaders from both parties said they were looking into a solution after so much backlash from the industry, particularly a petition that garnered 30,000 signatures and numerous calls to legislators.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, released a statement Tuesday stating there could be a legislative route to clearing up the regulations surrounding microbreweries.

“I will work with my legislative colleagues to develop legislation that will bring more clarity to state regulations so that microbreweries can operate successfully while maintaining an appropriate business distinction between C-license restaurants and the microbreweries,” Sweeney said. “This will allow the breweries to continue to grow and prosper.”

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr., R-Union, also thinks there could be a legislative solution reached in concert with the governor’s office and Democratic leaders to move forward with a bill.

“Our efforts to modernize the state’s brewery laws have been successful beyond belief, leading to an economic success story that few could have imagined when we started,” Kean Jr. said in a statement. “We shouldn’t allow a State regulatory body to turn back the clock after everything we’ve accomplished.

State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex called for the ruling to be reversed.

“I strongly believe the ruling by the director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control is inconsistent with the law intending to help foster craft breweries in the state and sets unreasonable restrictions on small businesses taking advantage of the opportunities to grow and prosper,” Coughlin stated.

Gov. Phil Murphy voiced his approval of the ABC reversing the special ruling.

“New Jersey’s craft beer industry is a valuable part of the State’s economy, one that must be able to continue to prosper,” Murphy said in a statement. “Last week I expressed concerns about unintended consequences of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s special ruling limiting New Jersey’s craft breweries. I applaud the Division’s decision today and look forward to continuing to support the craft beer industry and microbreweries.”

During a Facebook Live town hall Monday, Murphy said his administration would look into the ruling, saying the craft beer scene has become a respected industry in the state.

“I’m not sure that’s the right, sensible step to take,” Murphy said. “The craft beer industry has sort of taken a real hold in our state. It’s become a source of great sort of pride.”

Some of the microbreweries went to Facebook to announce their satisfaction with the ABC’s reversal.

Some of the microbreweries went to Facebook to announce their satisfaction with the ABC’s reversal. 

“Keep faith and keep fighting, and just sometimes David can beat Goliath,” Human Village Brewery Company posted. “Thank you so much! This is just a breather. We will need you because this is only a calm before the legislative storm ahead. Keep signing and sharing the petition. Keep telling your representatives that you support New Jersey breweries!!”

The Death of a Fox Brewery also weighed in on the decision. 

“The Special Ruling is suspended, but the fight is not over!!! Let’s make sure we make our voices heard to our legislators so they get it RIGHT next time!!!,” the Clarksboro-based brewery posted.

NJ Advance Media staff writer Matt Arco contributed to this report.

Chris Franklin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews. Find on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us.


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