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New Jersey Amends the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act to Address the Manufacture and Sale of Hard Cider and Mead - Part 1: The Cidery and meadery license.

Norris McLaughlin Liquor Law Blog, Legal Liquor, Ted Zeller, Attorneys at Law

In recent years, a handful of companies have been manufacturing and selling cider and mead in New Jersey under a temporary authorization permit (“TAP”) issued under the NJ ABC Commissioner’s general powers. Those companies were working under a TAP due to the fact that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (“Act”) did not have a specific license for the production of cider and mead. Last month, New Jersey passed legislation amending the Act to provide for a Cidery and meadery license, creating a dedicated space for manufacturers of these products (and is also good news for wineries, to be discussed in Part 2).

The Cidery and meadery license will work very much like a Limited brewery license (the license utilized by craft breweries). The licensee is permitted to manufacture hard cider and mead in a limited quantity (up to 50,000 barrels of hard cider and 250,000 barrels of mead per year), sell and distribute to licensed wholesalers and retailers, maintain a warehouse, and sell its products at retail from the licensed premises for both off-site and on-site consumption.

But the Cidery and meadery license has three notable differences from the Limited brewery license. First, there is no requirement for holders of the Cidery and meadery license to see that their customers take a tour of the premises before they can purchase cider or mead for on-site consumption. Second, Cidery and meadery licensees are specifically permitted to serve gratuitous offerings of snacks, such as crackers, chips, and nuts (while Limited breweries are specifically prohibited from selling any food on-site under the Act). There is, however, legislation pending to eliminate the tour requirement for Limited breweries and that would allow them to offer gratuitous snacks, which would align the two licenses (hopefully the enactment of the Cidery and meadery license is a sign of things to come for Limited breweries). Third, the Act allows the Cidery and meadery licensee to ship up to 12 cases of mead per year (but not hard cider) directly to a consumer over 21 years of age for personal consumption (something that is a privilege of many of the winery licenses, but not a privilege of the Limited brewery license).

Also, the sale and distribution of hard cider (but not mead) to a wholesaler is subject to the same statutory and regulatory requirements as a brewer, namely adhering to the provisions of the Malt Alcoholic Beverage Practices Act (“MABPA”) N.J.S.A. 33:1-93.12 (which is New Jersey’s “beer franchise act” governing the relationship between manufacturers and wholesalers of beer).

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will discuss new rights afforded to certain wineries with respect to the manufacturing and sale of hard cider and mead and the impact of MABPA.

For information regarding national and state liquor law matters or general manufacturing and distribution advice, please contact our Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution Practice Group: Liquor Law Department Chair Theodore J. Zeller III, Esquire (tzeller@norris-law.com); David C. Berger, Esquire (dberger@norris-law.com) for Pennsylvania and New Jersey retail and manufacturing licensing; or contact our offices at 610-391-1800.

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