Monday, June 26, 2006

New Jersey beer goes here

The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild (GSCBG) just hosted their 10th annual beer festival this past Saturday. Around 1,000 people came out on a rather gloomy day to taste some NJ craft beer. I ask myself if it was a success? In terms of the gate and given the weather, I suppose it was. But as a member and president of our organization, I see it as a failure as well.

Of the 16 members in our guild, only 12 brought their beer to the fest. Given that we have only one festival per year, that is disturbing and quite frankly unforgivable. The purpose of our group is to bring awareness to the great beer being made in our state. If the breweries don't believe that, how can we possibly hope that beer drinkers will? I know that some members view each other as competitors and are reluctant to do something that they feel may benefit another business. But what they fail to see is that good beer begets good beer, and good beer drinkers. If they took the time to come out to these festivals, they would see that.

I've been president of the GSCBG for a few years now. I never wanted to hold that office and only did it because no one else would. I know that this organization (if you can call it that) is probably no different than many others. There's little participation from the members and I fear that the group has lost it's vision and purpose.

Since Heavyweight is closing this summer, I'll be leaving the guild. I am sad for the future of the NJ beer scene for I fear that no one else has the time or inclination to keep the guild going. I hope I'm wrong. I hope there is another festival next year. I'll be there, with all the other beer lovers, to support NJ craft beer.

35 Comments:

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous John C said...

I agree that its shameful for the 4 breweries that were a no-show. I dont know the circumstances, but do know for the NJ beer movement to gain momentum, more is better.

Sixteen voices are louder than twelve. Hopefully the 12 (11 soon, sigh) continue to make beers that inspire more people to try something new...from New Jersey.

We have the quality, some of the best beers in the country in NJ, but we need to turn up the volume so everyone will know about and actively seek them out.

On a side note...
The festival was a blast. The beers were outstanding and the conversations enjoyable. Thanks for putting together a great event, everyone I spoke to had a super time! Crossing my fingers for a 2007 event, at least you would visit it unlike our 4 no-shows...

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger Jim A said...

I firmly believe that craft brewing in this State is and will remain stagnant until regulations are made less stringent for entrepreneurs to enter the market. Has anyone seen what liquor licenses are going for these days at auction? I believe in South Jersey Mt' Laurel sold one recently for about $700,000 and not to be outdone, a license was auctioned off in Cherry Hill for over $1,000,000! Never mind all of the capital costs of starting a brewpub, you need to shell out an enormous amount of money just to get in the game.

And what about the silly laws on the books about off site sales? It is an absolute joke that a brewpub cannot sell off premises as a means to supplement income. Who the Hell is the government protecting in this instance? Do they think that Budweiser brewpubs will begin dotting the landscape of the Garden State if they had the opportunity? Conversely if the rules were relaxed I seriously doubt sales of Bud and Bud Light would be impacted either.

Just what is the mission of the Guild anyway? Probably would be nice to see them trying to help the craft brewing industry by lobbying politicians to change laws detrimental to their business.

It pains me to come across so negative but I just don't see a future until a concerted effort is put forth to change the regulatory landscape in New Jersey.

Perhaps a field trip to various brewpubs and Microbreweries in Philly and the suburbs would help New Jersey Lawmakers better see the light.

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger geoffrobinson said...

Let me add my 2 cents:

Last summer, when the state of NJ was making laws which would tie brewers to their wholesaler....why did they not involve their base of support unitl the final hour?

And I don't think the call to arms was given by them. It was the national organization.

Granted, I know little to nothing about what happened behind the scenes. And if you guys can't get everyone to an event, I would expect all of you to be able to monitor legislation.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger A.H. Beer Man said...

Tom (off topic)I was saddened to hear that you have decided to pull up stakes and move on to something new. Best wishes on your future continued success.

No chance you'd look at opening a nice craft beer bar/family restaurant in the Atlantic Highlands? We have lots of high end eateries but no place with a decent beer, and few places where local families really want to eat or drink.

As for the Craft Brewers Guild, it is sad that not all members chose to support the festival. One function that the guild might wish to assign is a Guild PR person. This would be someone that contacts the "local" media such as the Atlantic Highlands Herald, the Bayshore Courier, Two River Times etc. a short piece with recipes and craft brewing updates that they can use to augment their usual fare.

Again best of luck.

Ed Kelley

 
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At 12:57 PM, Blogger The PubScout said...

With Heavyweight gone, the future of NJ beer has just dimmed considerably.

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger tomlombardini said...

I just learned about Heavyweight today and looked it up only to find I won't be able to try it. As far as the politcal aspects and liquor licenses, look at Mountain Creek and their new resort. Gee, how did they get the liquor license that supposedly wasn't there?

Anyway, it is a shame that good microbrews have to go through so much to keep their heads above water. Budweiser Brewpubs? I think I'm going to be sick!

Good Luck!

 
At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perkuno's Hammer is my favorite beer of all time. It's sad enough that I moved out of your area (Pittsburgh -> Seattle). Now you're not making it anymore?

 
At 10:54 PM, Anonymous jj said...

Perkuno's Hammer is my favorite beer of all time. It's sad enough that I moved out of your area (Pittsburgh -> Seattle). Now you're not making it anymore?

 
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