Remember that scene in Game of Thrones where King Joffrey Baratheon gets married to Margaery Tyrell and everyone pretends to be a big, happy family while secretly scheming their respective takedowns and the whole thing ends with a murder and some dancing midgets?
That’s what the recent meeting of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, held at Spellbound last Monday, could have turned into (minus the dancing dwarves).
Sure, HBO may have House Stark and House Lannister, but Jersey’s got House Craft Brewers Guild and House Restaurant Association and about 14 other special interest groups, all with a lot riding on access to the kingdom’s alcohol. No one blames any of them for being passionate about their respective agendas.
But there are those – let’s call them three-eyed ravens – constantly chirping that one house or another is usurping too much control. Gaining an unfair advantage. Operating outside of the law. Having incestuous affairs. (Wait – scratch that last one; that really is just GOT.)
The Guild agrees that no one industry should unnecessarily infringe on any other, or get more than its fair share of, uh, magical dinosaur eggs. And we’d never want to be accused of doing so.
So, under the direction of CMB leader and association president Ryan Krill, the group’s board began working last December on a Best Practices document. By clearing up some of the murky legalese regarding limited brewery tasting rooms, it should go a long way toward appeasing those who aren’t keen on Jersey’s current tasting room boom.
At the meeting, this finely-finessed document was unveiled to the membership.
What, exactly, does it say?
Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children…
It says that tasting rooms will not offer bar games or sports on TV, that they will close by 10pm unless the local municipality dictates earlier,
and that no food vendors will be allowed inside for on-premise consumption. But tasting rooms will be allowed to offer free bar snacks to patrons and, perhaps most importantly, customers will have the option of bringing in their own outside food. Finally, none of the aforementioned restrictions apply to private events.
Some braced themselves for a Red Wedding-style fight. After all, the document is effectively self-regulation – and rules are about as popular a topic as imps in Castlery Rock.
But the reaction was largely positive, with many vocalizing their agreement on the need for reiteration: tasting rooms are not traditional bars, and should not operate as such.
“I wish we had this when I was starting out,” Ryan told the group of 50, the largest turnout in Guild meeting history. “It’s going to clean up some gray areas, allowing us to better promote craft beer tourism, while maintaining a positive rapport with other alcohol-related businesses.”
Added Mark Edelson of Iron Hill: “We’ve taken the initiative, rather than leaving it up to someone else to regulate for us.”
And Jeremy Lees of Flounder Brewery agreed. “This will guide new start-ups,” he said. “We want to make sure everyone understands the nuances of the law.”
As always, we’ll keep you updated on those nuances. In the meantime, remember – summer’s coming.