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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A battle is brewing in the Garden State after new regulations have some local beer makers fired up.
As owner of the Death of the Fox Brewing Company in East Greenwich Township, Chuck Garrity is living his dream.
He loves sharing the beer he brews and as often as he can, filling his tasting room.
“Our tasting room is very much focused on being connected to the community,” says Garrity.
In 2012, New Jersey lawmakers hit the launch button on the micro-brewing industry making it legal for brewers to sell their beer and offer samples on premises. Now, there are about 90 breweries in the Garden State, and as of Monday, a whole new set of regulations.
“I think it’s important that anybody that sells controlled substance have regs,” said Marilou Halvorsen, president of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association.
Over the years other stakeholders in the food and beverage industry have raised concerns about breweries being under-regulated and having unfair business advantages.
“There’s been quite honestly some breweries that have been operating outside the intent of the legislation by operating like a bar and you know if you want to operate like a bar than get a license like everybody else has to,” said Halvorsen.
Full liquor licenses can cost from $20,000 for more than a million dollars in some towns where micro-breweries pay annual fees of a few thousand dollars. So this week the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control released new rules that limit food consumption, entertainment and most controversially limit events at micro-breweries to just 25 per year.
“We were not prepared for how restrictive the ruling was going to be and how much red tape would be put in place,” said Megan Myers with Human Village Brewing Company
New Jersey regulators say the new rules don’t really affect brewing beer, but talk to brewers and they’ll tell you it’s all that other stuff in the tap room that make the business”
“We need to give people a great experience to attach to our brand,” said Garrity.
Right now thousands of people are signing an online petition to stop the new rules and a lawsuit is being discussed.
Mayor Dale Archer, of East Greenwich Township, has released a strong statement addressing New Jersey state officials such as Gov. Murphy confirming his stance to side with local businesses and the beer industry in New Jersey.