By Mike Dougherty

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey governor Chris Christie today signed into law a bill that gives brewpubs and microbreweries in the Garden State more freedom to host tours and sell their products.

The new laws give beer makers some of the same privileges enjoyed by wineries in the state.  And that’s music to the ears of Flying Fish Brewing Company founder Gene Muller.

“It allows us to sell a consumer a case or two of beer when they come in for a tour,” he tells KYW Newsradio, “and also, as part of the tour, we can sell them a pint of beer or a sampler and make it comparable to all the surrounding states.”

Muller says this comes at a perfect time for his company because they just moved into a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility in Somerdale, NJ.

“We have a lot more room to do tours and tastings and things like that,” he notes.

The bill also allows smaller brewpubs to sell their beer to distributors, as well as offer samples of their products at off-site promotional events.

And Muller says he welcomes any new breweries that might start up because of the new, relaxed laws.

“Funny thing about our industry is, I look at it as the rising tide lifts all boats.  I don’t really see other small brewers as competitors. I think if people are drinking our beer, our category of beer, that’s a great thing for everybody.”

New Jersey is ranked the 32nd state in the US for craft beer production; Pennsylvania is #2.

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