NJ liquor license laws get first massive overhaul in nearly 100 years
🍾 More spots will have chance to serve alcohol
🍺 NJ breweries get relief from restrictions
🍷 New license type will apply to NJ malls
TRENTON – Legislation signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday amounts to an overhaul of New Jersey’s outdated liquor license laws — boosting the number of spots that can serve alcohol while also easing restrictions on breweries and distilleries.
Among the changes, there would now be a time limit on how long liquor licenses can be held onto without being used.
There also would be a new type of liquor license for mall properties, which have been going through drastic transformations, statewide.
This would permanently lift restrictions that have long been decried by breweries, cideries, meaderies and distilleries, which supporters say will allow for fairer competition with neighboring states.
Puts deadline on inactive/pocket NJ liquor licenses
Under the new law, license holders will no longer be able to hold onto a retail consumption license without using it within a total of two years.
If a license has not been used for that span, holders will now be required to either use them or sell it. Otherwise, the license can be transferred to a neighboring municipality.
Any inactive consumption license lapsed and not renewed for eight years can instead be replaced by a town with a new consumption license sold publicly for use at a licensed business.
These changes would add or free up as many as 1,356 liquor licenses statewide, a roughly 15% increase over the 8,905 active retail consumption licenses in active use, according to the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
As NJ malls get revamped, so does ability to serve alcohol
The law also creates a new class of retail consumption liquor license for mall properties, including certain strip malls.
Communities can issue up to two new licenses for food and beverage establishments in shopping malls with a minimum of 750,000 square feet.
For shopping malls with a minimum of 1.5 million square feet, it’s double — up to four new licenses will be allowed for establishments.
New Jersey could see upwards of 100 new licenses created under the mall provision.
Restrictions eased for NJ breweries, cideries, meaderies, distilleries
The law eliminates the long-standing burden that required breweries, cideries, meaderies and distilleries to provide tours to patrons before consumption on site.
Those businesses also can now continue to offer snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, while collaborating with outside vendors including food trucks.
There would no longer be limits to the number of onsite events and private parties at these businesses — they can also still host up to 25 off-site special events, as well as take part in up to 25 events hosted by the holder of a social affairs permit.
Another key part of the changes for NJ breweries, cideries, meaderies, distilleries — the number of barrels that may be manufactured per year has been boosted from 10,000 to 300,000.
It also allows license holders to directly sell and distribute 50% of beer produced on premises each year to retailers — instead of having to rely only on wholesalers.
The laws also creates a new “farm-brewery license,” allowing such a holder to make malt alcoholic beverages for retail sale to consumers, for consumption off the licensed premises.
Booziest spots: NJ towns with the most bars per square mile
Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt
NJ breweries with top-rated beer
Gallery Credit: Dino Flammia