Murphy Says New NJ Craft Brewery Restrictions Hard To Swallow

Gov. Phil Murphy says he's a Budweiser guy. In other words, his beer of choice comes from one of the nation's largest breweries.

Even so, Murphy says he's skeptical of the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission's new restrictions on New Jersey's smaller craft breweries.

The regulations, instituted last week, limit the number of special events that the state's 88 microbreweries can host in the Garden State. Critics say that will hurt a growing industry. 

Murphy said Monday the rules took him by surprise and that his administration is "looking at that."

"I'm not sure that's the right, sensible step to take," Murphy said of the regulations during a Facebook Live town hall. "The craft beer industry has sort of taken a real hold in our state. It's become a source of great sort of pride."

Murphy said the industry is "a particular draw for millennials -- and we need all the millennial draws we can find."

"My son turned 21, and if he's having a beer, he's having a craft beer," the rookie Democratic governor said. "I'm old school -- I'm having a Bud. But there's room for both in our state, I might add. And there ought to be room for both."

Murphy did not detail what steps he might take in reaction to the rules.

"We're looking at this," he said. "Stay tuned."

The regulations say breweries in the state can now hold only 25 "special events," are limited to 12 permits a year to sell products off their premises, and are limited to 52 private parties.

Technically, it's the ABC under Murphy's administration that issued the regulations. But the  state Attorney General's Office, which is designed to be an independent government agency, oversees the ABC.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office said last week this is being done on a "temporary pilot basis" and were crafted with input from organizations representing brewers.

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