More Jersey Mandate Madness – This Time On Craft Brewers!

P. Gardner Goldsmith | June 12, 2019
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A few months ago, New Jersey acquired the not-so fine distinction of being the most “fled” state in the Union. And no wonder. It seems as if every few weeks another bizarre authoritarian statute or “regulation” is birthed from its politician and bureaucrats.

But now, even people hoping to wash their sorrows in some cold brews can’t escape.

Baylen Linnekin reports for Reason that last week, the NJ Alcohol Beverage Control Board (they’re gonna “control” your beverage) smothered craft breweries under a pile of new threats – sorry, I mean “regulations”.

Under the new rules, a brewery still may not sell food but may provide delivery menus to patrons. Yay. A brewery also may not allow a food truck to park on its premises but may allow food trucks or other food vendors to sell food to brewery customers off premises (duh) provided the brewery 'does not coordinate with the food vendor or food trucks.'

Gee, who might have “worked” with “regulators” to get this “protection”?

If you’re thinking restaurant interests that serve alcohol and want to hamper competition, you’re spot-on.

The state's powerful restaurant lobby, for example, opposes "any legislation that would relax the state's uniquely restrictive rules on [brewery] tasting rooms, such as allowing food service and eliminating a requirement that every patron must tour the facility each time s/he visits.”

This appears to fit the pattern of “rent seeking” by certain vested interests to stop consumers from frequenting competitors’ establishments. After all, we gotta protect “jobs” in the old industries from competition by those new ones.

Of course, if this mentally held sway in history, the developers of fire would have been blocked by the sellers of furs for warmth and raw meat for dinner.

Linnekin notes a salient aspect of the new ruling from the NJ “ABC”:

(T)he special ruling states that the ABC's vision for regulating breweries in the state involves restricting what breweries may sell and to whom so ‘that consumers could become more interested in the craft beers and would want to buy them at’ New Jersey liquor stores, restaurants, and bars.

Why should people become “more interested in the craft beers” when part of what the craft breweries could offer – food – is blocked from them to buy at the actual breweries?

Perhaps, as Linnekin observes, what the state bureaucrats mean is that they want people who are interested in the craft breweries to be steered towards the state booze stores and those already mentioned restaurants that might not like food service competition from the breweries.

How quaint. NJ and New York already are legendary for the Mafia and organized crime. Is it more palatable to strongarm people through the force of the state than it is through the force of a criminal underground?

Does that help hide the bitter taste?

A quick check at MRCTV will offer more than a dozen stories from the past year highlighting the head-smacking absurdity of New Jersey government. From the “Rain Tax”, to state-funded “news” (aka propaganda), to proposed “plastic bans”, and the ever-popular tale of taxpayers footing the $85K bill for former Governor Chris Christie’s portrait, the state has become a multi-ring circus, full of clownish characters ever-busy trying to mess with people and take their cash.

That’s not going to persuade people to stay. But at least the rest of the nation isn’t stuck languishing under such terrible, clownish, laws and regulations. At least there’s still a bit of “federalism” left.

A little. For now...

So raise a statutorily-okay toast! Here’s to freedom!

Just be sure you get your food in the right place.

Or else.