Saturday, 21 June 2008

South Jersey a "Beer Wasteland"

Since New Jersey wasn't already having enough reputation problems, now the Philadelphia Daily News beer columnist has taken aim at the Garden State:
There's no getting around it: South Jersey is a Beer Wasteland.

Oh, yeah, there's plenty of BudMillerCoors along Route 70. And there are several outstanding take-out stores.

But try to find a bar that pours double bock or cask-conditioned ale or a West Coast micro. Hell, try to find a Flying Fish, brewed right in Cherry Hill.

"It's true," said Gene Muller, founder of Flying Fish and an advocate of Jersey's beer scene. "We sell more in Philly than South Jersey."

What's the problem here? Excessive government regulation deserves a share of the blame:

...Muller and others believe South Jersey is hamstrung by incredibly expensive liquor licenses. Paying $500,000 for a license is not unusual: Last summer, one in Cherry Hill went for an astounding $1.6 million. (By comparison, you can get a license in Philadelphia for about $65,000.)

Licensing experts point to the real-estate market, speculation and the scarcity of licenses, which are doled out by municipalities, based on population. More than a dozen South Jersey towns (including Moorestown and Haddonfield) are dry, which further inflates the prices in neighboring communities.

Not that Pennsylvania is blameless in the government regulation of beer department, given the case law... Who would have thought the shadow of prohibition would stretch so far?

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