TRENTON – New Jersey is going to step up its promotion of the growing craft beer industry in the state under a new law that requires its tourism division to create a brewery trail program.

The law, enacted Friday, directs the Division of Travel and Tourism to create at least three trails that consist of a series of microbreweries linked geographically or thematically by surrounding arts, cultural, historical, entertainment or other tourism destinations.

The rapid growth of the brewery business in New Jersey was reflected in the statements legislative sponsors of the new law made following its enactment, which interchangeably said the state is home to 98 breweries, more than 100 breweries or 108.

The group New Jersey Craft Beer says there are currently 131 breweries in the state, as well as 22 brewpubs.

“Other states, such as Maine and Vermont, have already seen great success in including brew trails on their state travel websites,” said Sen. James Beach, D-Camden. “By making this field more visible and accessible to both tourists and locals, this law will allow us to support and grow the New Jersey craft beer industry.”

“By promoting responsible brewery tours, we will introduce more people to the creative craft beers produced in micro-batches by these unique brewpubs,” said Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex. “It is going to be a boost for the niche industry, as well as nearby complementary businesses like sandwich and dessert shops.”

The state will publish on the Division of Travel and Tourism website vacation itineraries and day-trip ideas based on specific brewery trails, including surrounding attractions, restaurants, lodging and entertainment options.

The website will provide information about every holder of a limited brewery license or restricted license in the state.

“New Jersey has some of the best craft beer in the nation,” said Assemblyman Hal Wirths, R-Sussex. “Independently, the breweries are doing really well because of the high quality of the product. Giving them more exposure by creating beer trails will add to the good reputation while helping other businesses in the area.”

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Assemblywomen Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen, said in a joint statement that craft breweries, like many businesses, were placed in a tough spot adapting to the pandemic.

“As we continue to reopen, these business owners could use more assistance in attracting customers,” they said. “A specific trail and website designated to promote craft brewery sites will celebrate the ingenious business diversity that is New Jersey and also help to sustain a growing industry in the state with promotion of its venues.”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

The best outdoor beer gardens at NJ breweries

There are more options than ever for enjoying a Garden State crafted beer in an outdoor setting.

New Jersey tied for first place (with Kentucky) with 43% growth in the craft beer scene from 2015 to 2019, according to C+R Research.

The following is a roundup of breweries around the state with scenic, dedicated outdoor seating as weather allows.

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