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Jersey Breweries Look to Capitalize on Demand for Craft Beers

3-19-13

By Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

Rick Reed and his staff have been brewing their own beer since 2002. Like many of the handful of other microbreweries in New Jersey, it’s a small operation that can’t compete with big beer companies or even microbreweries in other states, partly because of restrictions imposed by the state. But those rules have been eased.

“You used to not be able to drink on premise, but the law changed so now we can have on premise consumption and the brew pubs can now bottle their beer and sell it to retail outlets. So it’s a big boon for them, it’s a boon for us, obviously. And it’s just, all it does is again level the playing field with Pennsylvania,” Reed said.

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Another change — licensing fees have come down while production limits have increased. This all adds up to opportunities for growth.

The changes come at an ideal time because Reed and others in this industry say there’s a growing number of craft beer fans in New Jersey who are looking to buy local.

“We want to have Jersey drink Jersey. That’s our goal and this whole avenue of fresh New Jersey food, New Jersey beer, New Jersey drinks New Jersey is a beautiful thing,” Reed said.

“The whole craft movement it helps us in business and we actually have a home brewer’s club that we started out of here because of the demand. We carry a lot of Jersey beer so they come here and drink the beer so it’s kind of a cycle,” said Morris Tap & Grill Manager Michael DeSimone.

Among the Jersey beers featured in tap rooms recently has been one that aims to raise money for Sandy relief efforts.

“People were definitely behind it, definitely support it. It’s an IPA, Flying Fish was great to make it and I think most restaurants sold out of it quickly,” DeSimone said.

And since this buy local movement is spilling over into the craft brewery industry, there’s hope this fledgling market could expand beyond the 27 craft breweries and brew pubs that exist in New Jersey today.