You know that Jersey is pretty much the best at everything, right? Our beaches are top notch, our farm produce is delicious, and, even though the rest of the world makes fun of diners, we’re glad we have seventeen within walking distance of anywhere in the state. Beats the hell out of Denny’s. (Though, honestly, we’d kill for a Waffle House.)
And, please. Don’t even try to feed us pizza made anywhere else.
With all of the great things about the Garden State, it only stands to reason that we’ve got the best beer to offer, as well.
That’s why the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild is sponsoring the Jersey Drafts and Crafts Beer Fest!
On Saturday, September 16, starting at 12pm, over thirty New Jersey breweries and distilleries will be on hand at iPlay America for a day filled with all of the great things New Jersey has to offer: beer, music, and food.
If it combines beer and politics, you can be sure that Ryan Tiberius Krill will be in attendance. (No, that’s not actually his middle name.)
He was in DC this past week for the Guild’s annual Chamber Walk, an informal meeting with NJ’s federal and state legislators.
“It’s definitely more about beer than politics,” Ryan tells us. “It’s a way for the Guild to thank our legislators for the hard work they put in all year, for us and for the people of New Jersey.”
Held at the Marriott Wardman Park, it was the fourth year Ryan’s headed down there for the Chamber Walk, and “this year was the best,” according to Ryan.
Senator Booker and Senator Menendez were both in attendance, as well as six Congressmen and Phil Murphy — the current frontrunner to become New Jersey’s next governor.
Senator Booker loves Cape May, but, since he’s the model of health and fitness in the Senate, he doesn’t drink. Ryan’s working on that — at least enough to get him down to the brewery.
However, even though the night was meant to be more social than political, Ryan never wastes a chance to talk up New Jersey’s breweries to our elected officials — and the only thing he wanted to talk about was the CBMTRA — the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.
During the last session of Congress, all of New Jersey’s Congressmen and Senators signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, but with the new session that began in 2017, all of that work begins anew.
“My goal is to have everyone signed on,” Ryan says, “and we’re on target to have everybody back.”
Sweet! New Jersey’s elected officials have been looking out for us little guys, and we couldn’t be more proud that these fourteen people are tirelessly working on our behalf.
Well… not all that “tirelessly.” They did take some time out of their busy schedules to have some of the best beer New Jersey has to offer. Thankfully, there are some perks to the otherwise thankless job of being in Congress.
Ryan was back in DC this week to speak at USBevX and will be back down for the BA’s Hill Climb in April.
In the meantime, check out some of his pictures below!
Ryan flew up to Rutgers in New Brunswick on Tuesday to testify in front of the Red Tape Review Commission. Helmed by Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, the mission of the RTRC is to create a business climate in New Jersey that facilitates job creation. They’re targeting burdensome regulations so that the business-to-government interaction is seamless and productive, while protecting public health, safety, and the environment.
“I got a giant novelty pair of scissors and CUT TAPE!” Ryan said. “I got a giant piece of tape and I cut it!”
He totally did. (No, not really.)
However, the legislation surrounding craft breweries may as well be bound in red tape.
“It went really well,” he said. “We spoke about our issues. I spoke from the heart, and to be able to raise our issues in front of someone in the Lieutenant Governor’s position is a great honor.”
Ryan was joined by the Guild’s Government Affairs Representative, Eric Orlando of Kaufman Zita Group. Willow Creek Winery and Diane Wieland, Director of Tourism for Cape May County, were on hand as well. Ryan reports that Diane’s testimony was much the same as his: that the restrictions on breweries should be lifted to be along the same lines as wineries.
“Neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania have already blazed a trail in recent years towards finding ways government can help, not hinder, the development of their homegrown craft beverage industries,” Eric says. “New Jersey’s elected officials, like those which sit on the Red Tape Review Commission, including the Lt. Governor, should use these states and others as the templates for fixing an alcohol beverage control system which does not recognize the realities and trends of the state’s craft beer, wine and spirits industries.”
We like to look at the alcoholic beverage industry in New Jersey as a cohesive whole, encompassing breweries, wineries, and distilleries. It only makes sense, as we’re all doing the same basic thing: producing an alcoholic product that people enjoy drinking.
However, the regulations surrounding the different products are quite different.
As you know, breweries in New Jersey are mandated to require a tour. There’s no such rule for wineries or the pending legislation for meaderies or cideries. We don’t mind showing you around — in fact, we love doing it! — but requiring you to take a tour on every, single visit is just a bit much. Our self-guided tour fills the need rather nicely — you have no choice but to walk through it — but why aren’t wineries required to do the same?
A further point of contention is our ability to serve food. Our visitors’ safety is our utmost concern, and while it’s a well-known fact that food absorbs alcohol and slows the rate of intoxication, we’re prohibited from serving so much as a bag of chips. Wineries, however, can serve seven-course meals. That’s not only unfair, it’s dangerous.
Our allowed entertainment differs, too. You may have noticed that we’ve got Pandora going and an old movie playing on Netflix on our gigantic projection screen. That’s not by choice — that’s all we’re allowed to show. How great would it be to get bands down here? How much fun would it be to get a comedy act once in awhile? Well… we can’t. But wineries can.
If it sounds like sour grapes — pun intended — it is. Breweries are treated like the red-headed stepchild of the liquor industry in New Jersey, and it’s high time it’s come to an end. We’re not even asking for special treatment — all we want is to be treated on the same level playing field as the rest of the industry.
Ryan’s testimony appears to be working. There are plans afoot to create a summit, gathering together the state’s wineries, breweries, distilleries, and possible restaurants to come to some sort of an understanding.
“The Guild would love to take the lead on these endeavors,” Eric notes.
Let’s face it: there’s a lot of common ground, here. There are a number of ways we could come together to assist each other. Beyond the obvious commonality of creating alcoholic beverages, we could conceivably partner with one of the area wineries and serve their wine in our Tasting Room and they could serve our beer in theirs. We could serve the beers of other breweries. We could partner with an area restaurant to get some tasty vittles here in the Tasting Room. We’re just spitballing here, but there are so many ways we could come together to help each other.
This summit sounds like a fantastic idea. Let’s hope that our lawmakers in Trenton take some of the suggestions we devise.
Until then, Ryan’s going to keep fighting the good fight, ensuring that New Jersey’s craft brewers have every opportunity open to them. And ensuring that you can get wider access to the great brews you’ve come to love.
What happens when you get the heads of all of New Jersey’s breweries in one room together?
Beer. Beer happens. And, as you know, New Jersey’s got some of the best beer in the world.
Ryan, wearing his Garden State Craft Brewers Guild President hat, trekked up to Jersey Girl Brewing Company in Hackettstown. While these Guild meetings sound like a great time for everyone, there’s always a lot of serious business to attend to.
The first order of business: introducing our newly-minted Executive Director, Jason Carty, to the Guild.
“I was surprised at how dedicated our membership is,” Jason said. “We had about 100 members in attendance, and some of them had to drive over two hours to attend. It’s great to see such devotion and commitment from the members of the Guild.”
Jason’s really looking forward to his work with the Guild. “There was great energy in the room,” he tells us, “and I’m looking forward to working with the various committees. From planning festivals to tackling our legislative agenda, 2017 is going to be a great year.”
If the Guild can make 2017 better than 2016, we’re in for a good year. Our main event of the year — Brews by the Bay — had a record turnout, and we’ve welcomed twelve new breweries into the fold. 2016 was a year of tremendous growth in our industry, and we’re all looking forward to what 2017 will bring. With the one-two punch of Krill-Carty at the helm, we’re sure great things will be happening in New Jersey craft beer.
In addition, the Guild held elections for two open seats on the Executive Board, with Jamie Queli of Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing winning the Limited License Brewer’s seat and Kevin Walter of Iron Hill Brewery taking the uncontested Restricted License Brewer’s seat.
“I’m looking forward to having both Jamie and Kevin join me on the Executive Board,” Ryan said. “With their hard work and perseverance, 2017’s going to be a great year.”
And this year is rounding out to have some decent changes in the laws governing craft breweries. We’ve told you about Senate Bill 1334, allowing us to sell growler fills and tastings at New Jersey farmers markets. That bill is scheduled for a committee vote on Monday, the 12th. You can help by contacting the members of the committee:
Shoot these Senators an email and tell them to vote YES on the upcoming bill. Better yet, give their offices a call. It may sound trite, but your elected officials respond so much better to a phone call.
Let them know how the legislation will help the growth of state’s craft beer industry. This bill will support local farmers and allow New Jersey’s breweries to compete on the same level with breweries in other nearby states like Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland. Those states already allow growler fills at farmers markets, and, if you look at the numbers from the Brewers Association, they’re absolutely killing it in terms of production and revenue.
New Jersey could join their ranks. There’s enough creativity, variety, and innovation in this state that we should be able to blow our neighbors out of the water. The Farmers Market bill is just one step in the right direction.
Make your voice heard! Contact the committee members today.
As president of the Guild, Ryan’s had some pretty decent accomplishments. One of those was hiring the Guild’s first full-time Executive Director, Don Russell. Well-known in beer circles as Joe Sixpack, over the summer he decided to return to doing what he does best — writing and writing about beer.
Since then, the board at the Guild has been searching for someone to fill the position. It’s a tough position to fill: we needed someone with fundraising experience, legislative experience, public service… and enough of a beer guy to know his stuff and still be a professional.
We found our guy: Jason Carty.
“Jason is a great choice,” Ryan says. “He loves beer and the New Jersey craft beer scene, so Jason’s the guy to elevate the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild and New Jersey’s craft beer industry throughout the country.”
And, yeah. Jason LOVES beer. Not only did he make an impromptu weekend trip to Belgium in search of beautiful brews, but he actually had a list of his favorite New Jersey beers on his resume. And, man, that’s an extensive list.
“I’m a big fan of the craft beer movement in New Jersey,” Jason says. “It’s some of the best beer around. I’ve been to a lot of breweries near and far, and New Jersey is really putting out a superior product.”
Jason’s been such a part of the New Jersey craft beer scene that Village Idiot named a brew after him. “I don’t know if this is good or bad,” he jokes, “but I won a beer-naming contest. There’s a beer called ‘Evil Boss’ — it’s a bit of a political inside joke. Everybody I know checked off ‘Evil Boss,’ because they wanted the beer named after me. They even put my initials in the logo for it. I love the really boozy, Russian Imperial Stouts, and this is a 13% Russian Imperial Stout.”
Like the rest of us in this industry, Jason’s always had an innate love for beer, but parlaying that love into income took some time to figure out. (Check out our careers page!)
Jason’s done a million things throughout his life, but each time he’s followed his heart. For example, after several years as a corrections officer, he took a significant pay cut to become a firefighter. “It was what I wanted to do,” he says. “I saw the opportunity to work in a field that I’m interested in and that I love. So, why not? It’s a big bonus to work in an industry that you love with people that you like and to be able to help people.”
And his experience will definitely be supporting this cause. He’s got crazy experience in fundraising, public service, and legislation — and we know we need all the help we can get when it comes to working with legislators to update the laws governing production breweries.
Jason’s got a unique skill set. He spent eleven years as Fire Commissioner and Fire Chief in Mount Holly and Westampton Township. He’s got experience with unions of various sizes — dealing with labor issues, grievances, and contract negotiations. He’s got experience in fundraising and running charitable events — including a St. Patrick’s Day 5K to raise funds for local recreation programs in Mount Holly, his hometown.
And… he was a Coast Guard reservist! You may not know that the Coast Guard Training Center is right up the street in Cape May. So, Jason’s been down to CMBC on several occasions.
“I love Cape May,” he says, enthusiastically. “Semper paratus!”
His career as a Coastie predates CMBC by a few years, but you know that a beer guy like Jason isn’t going to give up a chance for a visit to a new brewery when he’s in the area.
His last trip down here was toward the end of the summer for a weekend, and he stopped on the way in to stock up on The Keel.
“I was impressed by the self-guided tour,” he says. “I thought it was a very smart way to handle the mandatory tour requirement. Having been to so many breweries throughout the state, I think it’s one of the better ways I’ve seen to articulate the beer-making process to the general public.”
In that list of favorite beers on his resume, he mentioned a few of our CMBC favorites, including Devil’s Reach and Salty Lips.
“Yeah, I thought you guys really nailed those styles [Belgian and Gose]. I haven’t had the chance to try all your beers (There’s still time, Jason!), but I’m really looking forward to some of the Barrel Aged Series — I haven’t gotten the chance to pick up a bottle of The Scupper yet, but I think I might know a few people down there now who might be able to save me a couple,” he laughs.
“Devil’s Reach is one of my go-tos. I’ve got it in the fridge all the time, for when I don’t feel like being all beer-geeked out and trying something new,” he says. “It’s a good, go-to, everyday beer.”
At the end of the day, Jason’s glad to be working in an industry he can be proud of, supporting a product he loves. “The product speaks for itself,” he says. “I’ve been to over thirty breweries in the state — from the small mom-and-pop shops to the larger ones — and they’re just putting out a really good product. The medals from the Great American Beer Festival that we’ve brought home to New Jersey speak for themselves. It’s in our backyard — buy local, shop local — but at the same time, it’s a great product, it’s a great industry, it’s a great group of people.”
We’re glad to count you as part of us, Jason.
Jason gets to work next week. If you should run into him on your travels, make sure to buy him a pint. He deserves it.
Legislative success means different things to different people. No one ever gets everything they want, but — like the end of a boxing match — you look around and see who’s still standing and you call them the winner.
We told you about the Smart Container Act before — the bottle deposit endeavor that made very little sense to anyone in the beverage industry. It required, among other things, essentially turning CMBC into a recycling center and a 10-cent tax on glass containers.
We’re all about helping the environment here at CMBC, and we think we do our part. We repurpose our spent grain as feed to local chickens and cows, we reuse all of our glassware in the Tasting Room (unless someone has too much Devil’s Reach and breaks their glass), we’ve turned scrap metal into a state-of-the-art bottling line, we buy as much of our ingredients locally as is humanly possible, and Ryan bikes to work so frequently you’d think he was born on a bike. We’d love to see fewer glass bottles and aluminum cans out there in the world, but there was just no chance we were going to have the facilities to recycle them ourselves.
Ding, dong, the SCA is dead!
Well, maybe not dead as much as tabled. Instead of taxing containers, “it’s now off to plastic bags,” Ryan tells us. The cause is noble but the sponsor of the bill is working with the Food Council for a more achievable piece of legislation.”
CMBC is all about reducing the number of plastic bags out there. They’re a scourge on humanity, and there’s another viable option in paper bags. (#gopaper) With the money being earmarked for lead abatement, it’s definitely money that needs to be raised. The new piece of legislation seems far more logical.
Another really sweet piece of legislation involves creating a Mead and Cider license. (See what we did there? Sweet? Mead? Cider? Hush it. It’s been a long week.)
Currently, only farm wineries are allowed to produce cider and mead. There’s only one mead producer in New Jersey, and they operate on a yearly, renewable permit, subject to revocation at any time. There’s an effort afoot to add a handful of breweries to the list of facilities allowed to produce cider and mead.
With over 100 brews in our lineup, could you imagine the possibilities? “We could start making cider,” says Ryan, “which would be great.”
Mead, essentially fermented honey, would be another great outlet — along with our Jersey Fresh Honey Porter — to use local honey. “It’s another channel for creativity in the New Jersey beverage community.”
Let’s hope that Ry-guy and his cohorts at the Guild are able to get this one passed. It would be a great opportunity for many of New Jersey’s brewers, including CMBC.
…no new taxes.” — Former President George H.W. Bush before being elected and raising taxes like it was goin’ outta style….
The New Jersey Assembly is looking for ways to raise revenue for improvements to schools with high levels of lead in their drinking water. Without question, a noble cause, but, in true New Jersey fashion, they’re looking to do it in the most short-sighted way imaginable: a bottle deposit.
Since modern recycling efforts have been established, no state has actually instituted a bottle deposit. Most, in fact, have abolished theirs, finding that they make no sense at all.
“We definitely shouldn’t be poisoning our children,” says Ryan, “but Cape May Brew Co. would effectively have to turn into a recycling center. We’re not remotely equipped for such a thing, and it would cost us thousands of dollars to make happen.”
So, he flew up to Trenton to testify before the Assembly committee. His testimony has been quoted by Newsworks and Politico New Jersey, among others.
Ignoring the fact that this little endeavor only raises revenue if people don’t return their bottles to get their deposit back, the bill passed through committee. Ryan intends to continue to work with the sponsors of the proposal as it goes to the full Assembly for a vote, having met with counsel from the governor’s office to discuss the future of the legislation. Gov. Christie has indicated that he’s likely to veto the measure.
The bottle deposit lent itself to great sitcom fodder in the 90s, with Seinfeld taking jabs at the possibility of making a killing by returning thousands of bottles. Newman and Kramer might love the bottle deposit, but the sitcom world and the real world rarely occupy the same universe. Except, apparently, in New Jersey politics.
After Ryan flew to Maryland to pick up our new truck on Monday of last week, he flew to a meeting of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild at Departed Soles Brewing Company in Jersey City. The recent snowfall made it difficult for some members to make it, but 25 intrepid soles braved the elements. Here’s what went down:
Executive Director Don Russell gave his report, including news on this year’s beer festivals. Brews by the Bay fans should mark their calendars — the 2016 event will take place on September 10.
Jeremy “Flounder” Lees of Flounder Brewing Co gave the membership report: 38 limited breweries, 11 restricted breweries, 1 contract brewer, 19 in planning, and 21 allied trade. Boom.
Ryan — Guild Prez — went over the importance of the Guild’s Best Practices document. “I want to make sure all of our members are marching to the same beat,” he says. “If we’re not regulating ourselves, it makes it difficult to negotatie, and difficult to to advocate for legislation.”
Ryan also discussed his plans for the upcoming Guild meeting, being held April 4 at Flying Fish. Neighboring guilds from Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania will be invited to attend a presentation given by Matt Stinchfield, Safety Ambassador for the Brewers Association, about affordable practices that can improve well-being in the brewhouse. “There are a lot of people getting into the craft brewing business who have no manufacturing experience, and now they’re tasked with operating heavy machinery and working with dangerous chemicals,” Ryan says. “We’re fortunate enough to have a safety manager on staff, but not everyone has that. I don’t want to see anyone hurt. The party can end real quick if you’re not careful.”
Three new brewery openings were announced, including Slacktide in Cape May County, Dark City in Asbury Park, and (almost launched) Alementary in Hackettstown.
Everyone was reminded to sign up for the Craft Brewers Conference, coming at you May 3-6 in Philadelphia. We’ll be there.
Meeting adjorned. Everyone enjoyed snacks and tasty beer.
December 7 marked the final Garden State Craft Brewers Guild meeting of the year, held at Forgotten Boardwalk Brewery in Cherry Hill. A record 65 people attended… although only two of them sported holiday-themed outfits.
“I’m very disappointed in the showing of holiday cheer here,” said Forgotten Boardwalk’s Jamie Queli, dressed in a ‘Happy Llamaka’ sweater picturing a Llama in Hasidic dress.
Regardless, the meeting — and the bottle-share shindig that followed — were a success. Here’s what went down:
Our guy Ryan was reelected as president! This time around, he will serve a two year – instead of one-year – term, per a new policy.
“I’m stoked!” he said. “Among my goals for 2016 is developing subcommittees: marketing, government affairs and events. There are some very talented people in our guild who want to be involved. I want to give them an outlet.”
Also on Ryan’s agenda: working to reintroduce legislation that’s important for job creation, modernizing and cleaning up the by-laws, increasing allied trade memberhip, hosting a safety conference with fellow guilds and the safety ambassador from the Brewers Association, and getting the ball rolling on two new beer festivals.
Ryan gave the group a rundown of the year in review. Here are the highlights:
Last June, Guild representatives lobbied 10 Congressional Offices at a Brewers Association Hill Climb. They met face-to-face with Senator David Norcross and Congressman Bill Pascrell.
A new website was launched, and digital outreach increased via a more streamlined newsletter.
A Best Practices Document was unveiled, to guide new breweries as they navigate the confusing legalese surrounding Jersey tasting rooms.
Job creation legislation was lobbied for at the state level (more on that below).
Don gave his director’s report, which included a positive review of last week’s state lobby session. For the event — which was modeled after a Brewers Association Hill Climb – Don, Ryan,
Gene Muller of Flying Fish, Mike Kane of Kane Brewing, and Guild lobbyist Eric Orlando headed to the State House in Trenton for four hours in order to discuss with policymakers Jersey’s emerging craft beer industry, as well as its challenges.
Eric gave the legislative report which included an update on the pending, small-brewery legislation that was discussed at the aforementioned lobby day. (Think: a bill that would allow for the sale of beer at local farmers markets, a bill that would allow for the consumption of food at certain brewery tasting rooms, and a bill that would allow brewpubs to self-distribute a small amount of beer.)
“The Assembly was in session on this day,” Eric explained. “We set up in the hall that connects to the caucus rooms, so we were able to interact with all 80 members. The reception was really positive – the legislatures were surprised to learn how many breweries are present within their respective districts, or interested to know how they can get a brewery into their district. I think there is support for this package of bills. Whether or not they go to a vote depends on many factors, including whether there is support for them from legislative leadership.”
Guild leadership reminded everyone to sign up for the upcoming Craft Brewers Conference, put on by the Brewers Association this spring in Philadelphia (watch this space for updates), and click here for a refresher on last year’s event.
Guild leadership informed the group of FIVE recent brewery openings (Man Skirt in Hackettstown, Berlin Brewing in Berlin, Double Nickel in Pennsauken, Tomfoolery in Hammonton, and Belford Brewing in Belford.)
Then, everyone ate pizza, drank Jersey fresh beer, participated in a raffle drawing, and perused the offerings of nine different vendors, selling everything from legal services to insurance to brewers grain.
Considering there will be 60 breweries and counting in New Jersey come 2016, there was a lot to celebrate.
This week, during the inaugural Trenton Lobby Day, the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild will advocate for the craft beer industry in front of our state leaders. To show how beneficial the work of small brewers can be to the local economy, they’ll present this economic impact report, put together by Guild (and CMBC) President Ryan Krill, and Guild Director Don Russell.
To see if there’s anything else worth adding to our list of important factoids, we called Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association.
Bart gave us a figure — 1.5% — and told us this is the maximum share Jersey craft brewers would have had of the in-state craft market last year, if every drop of their beer had been sold in New Jersey. Which, of course, it wasn’t.
Meaning? There’s a ton of craft beer in this state – the market share is somewhere in the low teens, and that’s enough to generate an economic impact of $1.2 billion – but not a lot of it is Jersey craft.
“In other words, there’s huge opportunity here for in-state producers,” Bart explained, “and 30% of economic impact comes from producers.”
Just a little something to mull over while you sip your morning coffee (or morning pint… we don’t judge).