New regulations will impact craft beer industry, owners say

Craft breweries in Burlington County and across the state are worried new regulations will have a damaging effect on the industry.

This week, the state’s director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control placed limits on the number of events at breweries and other restrictions.

The ruling affects 88 businesses with limited brewery licenses, including eight in Burlington County. There are 23 pending limited brewery licenses, which cost between $1,250 to $7,500 a year depending on the number of barrels brewed annually. No microbrewery is permitted to make more than 300,000 barrels per year, or 9.3 million gallons of beer.

In his ruling, Director David Rible said the new regulations stem from “confusion” between stakeholders and brewery owners surrounding what permissible activities are allowed and what constitutes a state-mandated tour, which breweries are required to offer to serve brewed beer on site.

suing this special ruling, my intention is to strike a balance respecting the roles of limited brewery licensees and other tiers of the industry in order to increase stability in the alcoholic beverage marketplace, while allowing realistic competition that ultimately will benefit all residents of the state,” Rible wrote in the letter.

Rible said in the ruling that his decision was meant to clarify the 2012 amendment.

“The 2012 amendment was not intended to establish a new consumption venue at the brewery, with the same privileges as a sports bar or restaurant,” he said in the ruling, which will be implemented on a “temporary pilot basis” as the division monitoring the activities that are conducted on and off the premises.

But local brewery owners say the new regulations will put a dent in their business.