State Senator Tom Kean introduced three bills this week that will, if passed, will allow more residents of the Garden State to experience the burgeoning local craft beer movement. The Republican Senator’s bills, S-2910, S-2911, and S-2912 have already received support from Democrats in the State Assembly.
Decades of out of control suburban sprawl have pushed New Jersey’s farms to the outer edges of the state where there is space to grown, but few local customers. In the last decade or so, weekly farmers’ markets started popping up in suburban communities like Ramsey, Sea Bright, and Metuchen that bring produce from distant NJ farms to population centers. As visits to these local markets grew so too did the demand for other locally crafted foods like jam, butter, hot sauce, and pickles.
The next step for the perfect locally sourced dinner at home is wine and beer. The NJ Department of Agriculture has very actively promoted the Atlantic Coastal Plains vineyards by allowing wine sales at some farmers’ markets. There are even rules in place that allow otherwise BYO restaurants like Terre a Terre in Carlstadt to offer wine from New Jersey growers. Back in the day, New Jersey wines were easily characterized as abundantly sweet. A lot has changed since then and programs that bring wine to the consumer have made many residents realize that many local wines are as good, if not better, than those from the Central Coast of California. Sales increases followed and the state’s agricultural heritage strengthened as a result.
Senate bill S-2910 would create state permits that would allow breweries to sell at local farmers’ markets. The state permits for craft beer sales would be for a year, raising the prospect of craft beer sales at some of the great winter farmers’ markets in Sparta, Ramsey, and Montclair.
Senator Kean’s S-2911 allows consumers to enjoy local food at microbreweries, while they visit, take a tour or sample beer.
Senator Kean’s S-2912 allows New Jersey brew pubs to annually sell and distribute up to 1,000 barrels of malt alcoholic beverages to state-licensed retailers and retailers licensed in other states.
Anyone who has visited a local brewery like Magnify Brewing or Cricket Hill in Fairfield, know that a lot of work goes into their products, margins are small, and competition is fierce. All three of these bills will give local beer crafters a chance to compete in an arena that is not owned by the big boys from Golden Colorado and St Louis.
Legislative processes like these often take time, but its worth the wait.
John Lee is Black Tie and Flip Flops’ Raconteur-In-Chief: the World of food is his playground ~ the whole world! Having a Navy Dad gave John the passion to discover the world. Whether in one of Mr. Boeing’s flying machines, as an armchair traveler with a great book, or a plate beaming with the exotic flavors and fragrances, his day is all about discovering the world and sharing the stories with everyone he meets.
John cut his teeth in commercial kitchens starting in high school and continued into his undergrad years, then the media bug bit. After University he spent time at the Washington Post Company before jumping on the first internet wave in the 1990’s at some of the major players of the era. John also established himself as a culinary instructor where his style of cooking was first called “Comfort Food Remixed.” Don’t get him started on Disney Dining, but yes, he tried “the grey stuff” and it is delicious. John jokes that he’s staying in NJ because he didn’t have enough miles to trade in for a return ticket home to San Diego, but we think he likes it here.