New Jersey Breweries Grow and Expand

In the Bergen Record, Dave Sheingold shares a perspective of positive news for New Jersey Craft Breweries with “NJ offers beers for all tastes as microbrew industry joins national surge” published earlier this week.  While we talk about the negative impacts of the Special Ruling (even while it is suspended), it’s a great reflection on the fact that despite being behind a large portion of the country – the growth in New Jersey Craft Beer makes it one of the most successful craft beer expansions in recent years.

According to the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control, New Jersey now has 78 licensed breweries, which is more than a 10-fold increase this decade and nearly double the number in 2016.

An informational map and graphic shared by the Record show the highest concentration of breweries in a corridor that stretches from Camden County to Monmouth County through Burlington and Ocean Counties.  With 9 breweries each, this area sits above the next busiest areas in Gloucester, Atlantic, and Cape May Counties.

The state’s collective beer mug remains considerably emptier than the top states. National data maintained by the Brewers Association, an industry trade group, shows that California had 764 craft or micro-breweries in 2017, followed by 369 in Washington, 348 in Colorado, 330 in Michigan and 329 in New York. Nationwide, there were 4,014 craft or micro-breweries in 2017, up from 1,240 in 2012. according to the association.

New Jersey was actually a bit late to the micro-brew business. It had only seven breweries as late as 2011, and that included a major installation in Newark producing Budweiser. That changed when the state modified its beer manufacturing rules in 2012, making it easier for small operators to do business.

With so much of the debate about craft breweries and tap room activities focusing on specifics, it’s great to take a second and see how far our industry has come in the past few years.