Readington Brewery and Hop Farm by Khürt Williams is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

As if quarantine didn’t already hurt the restaurant industry enough, New Jersey’s breweries now have to abide by a slew of new rules from the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. These rules restrict the scale of business that breweries can engage in.

“I don’t think it’s right, that an unelected bureaucrat in Trenton is deciding the fate of these these businesses Warren County Commissioner James Kern.

Microbreweries have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. They offer customers small batches of uniquely crafted beer that can be enjoyed at the brewery’s restaurant tasting room, and even offer tours to patrons so they can see how the beverages they enjoy are made.

According to the new regulations, breweries can’t sell beer without giving a tour first; sell food to patrons or operate as a restaurant; coordinate with food vendors or allow them to operate on their premises; sell coffee or soft drinks; or offer a happy hour discount, just to name a few.

These regulations prevent breweries from offering any sort of hospitality services to its patrons. They can no longer sell a burger with beer, let a food truck park outside their facilities, or even brew coffee for patrons.

The ruling goes even further in restricting the number of events the brewery can offer. Breweries can offer up to 25 special events providing entertainment on site every year. This includes things like concerts, championship sports broadcasts, or trivia nights. They are also limited to up to 12 off-site events.

“Some of the brewers will go out of business because it’s harder to do what we’re trying to do,” said Steve Zolnay of Invertase Brewing Company.

These rulings are completely unnecessary. They hurt businesses in an industry that already has notoriously thin profit margins, and will provide customers with even fewer options on where they can dine out. Why cripple businesses that provide jobs and source products locally?

“These businesses, for the past two years, have scratched and clawed to stay around,” Kern said. Lockdowns devastated the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association 90,000 restaurants closed for good because of the lockdown. New Jersey’s ruling would only exacerbate this problem. Many breweries will follow suit and shut their doors for good because they are unable to serve customers.

New Jersey should let people enjoy their food and beverages as they see fit.