Yes, NJ Breweries Can Deliver to Your Door — For Now
If delivery weren't an option, the doors may have already been closed at Hackensack Brewing.
After offering delivery of their craft brews for a few days in the wake of COVID-19 limitations, and then soon learning the option was off the table for their industry, brewery owners in the Garden State now have better clarification on the rules that are in place just for this public health emergency — they can transport their beer to folks at home.
Gov. Phil Murphy made the latest announcement during a press conference on March 30.
"I did an Instagram post as the governor was still talking, and we had probably $150 in beer orders within 20 minutes," said Mike Jones, owner of Hackensack Brewing. "That stuff is really keeping us alive right now."
Typically in New Jersey, breweries, cideries, meaderies and distilleries are unable to make home deliveries.
So when delivery launched at Toms River Brewing, "the phones started ringing immediately," according to Lacey Stryker, vice president of marketing.
"Clearly everyone's experiencing a slowdown for sure, but we haven't had to let a single person go or ask anyone to take a pay cut," Stryker said. "We're fortunate in that regard."
Outside distribution, a major part of the brewery's business, is holding steady, she said, despite strict limitations on bars and restaurants. Liquor stores are considered essential, and they continue to request inventory from brewers.
The pivot to home delivery was relatively easy for most breweries that chose to offer the service, according to Alexis Degan, executive director of the New Jersey Brewers Association. They just need a permit that allows vehicle transport of alcohol, and an employee, or a few, who can make the trips — this allowed spots to keep workers on board, Degan said.
Degan said it's understood that breweries must eliminate delivery once the public health emergency ceases, but she'd be interested in making delivery a year-round option.
"We know that we need to go the Legislature after this is all said and done, and highlight how great it was ... and how much the customers of New Jersey enjoyed it," Degan said. "It wasn't something that was really on our radar, but now we're doing it and we're seeing that maybe it could be something that we do going forward."