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Craft Beer Times | Proposals for Major Changes to Bev-Alc Laws in WI, NJ Senate Loosens Taproom Rules

Proposals for Major Changes to Bev-Alc Laws in WI, NJ Senate Loosens Taproom Rules

Proposals for Major Changes to Bev-Alc Laws in WI, NJ Senate Loosens Taproom Rules

Wisconsin Prepares for Sweeping Changes in Beverages and Alcohol Laws

Wisconsin is preparing for a sweeping overhaul of its beverages and alcohol laws. The state’s Legislature has proposed over 20 changes aimed at loosening regulations on breweries, wineries, and distilleries among other places that sell alcohol. Lawmakers have sourced expert advice from industry stakeholders and the public to ensure the changes are sensible and well-rounded.


Wisconsin, fondly known as the “Beer State,” has a rich history of production and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The state’s laws, however, can be restrictive, making some facets of the industry difficult to navigate. This has put a damper on producers and merchants alike, causing many businesses to suffer as a result. The proposed changes aim to modernize and harmonize Wisconsin’s policies with the rest of the country, following suit with other state and federal laws.

What the Proposed Changes Entail

Among the changes set to take effect are the following:

1. Homebrewing

Homebrewers will no longer require a license to brew beer or wine for personal use. They will be allowed to participate in club events, contests, and tastings, as long as they are non-commercial events.

2. Breweries

Breweries can sell their beer at farmers’ markets and produce up to 500 barrels of beer per year without a brewpub license. Additionally, they will be allowed to offer samples of their beer to customers, even without a permit.

3. Wineries

Wineries can now sell their products off-site without needing a retail license. They can also offer tastings in licensed establishments.

4. Distilleries

Distillers can now sell their products in designated locations without needing to obtain a retail license. Besides, they can no longer be required to exclusively sell their products to the state-owned liquor monopoly.

5. Retailers and Wholesalers

Retailers and wholesalers can now receive a written warning for first-time offenses of selling alcohol to minors or to adults who are legally intoxicated. Prior laws required harsher punishments, which lawmakers deem too steep for first-time offenders.

6. Other proposed changes

This is not an exhaustive list, and other proposed changes include measures aimed at allowing the sale of beer and wine at movie theaters and putting a cap on how much beer one can buy for off-premise consumption.

The Impacts of the Proposed Changes on the Industry

The alcohol and beverage industry is one of Wisconsin’s largest employers, and the proposed changes are expected to have ripple effects on the industry and the economy as a whole. Supporters of the changes believe they will foster a more inclusive and competitive trading environment, create new jobs, and increase the state’s GDP.

Critics, however, fear that the changes could lead to an increase in the rate of alcohol-related incidents, underage drinking, and addiction. Additionally, they warn that the changes could tilt the playing field to favor big players in the industry, crowding out smaller businesses.

New Jersey Senate Advances Eased Taproom Restrictions

In other news, New Jersey’s Senate has advanced legislation aimed at easing taproom restrictions for distilleries and breweries. The move is seen as a victory for alcohol producers that have been pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the proposed legislation, these establishments will be allowed to sell their products by the glass and offer food and entertainment on their premises. Additionally, the bill would suspend some of the state’s permit fees for the industry.


Wisconsin’s proposed changes and the New Jersey Senate advancing eased taproom restrictions are significant milestones for the beverages and alcohol industry in these states. The proposed changes offer a picture of a more liberal and vibrant industry, fostering competitive and inclusive trading environments. Nonetheless, lawmakers should consider doing more to cushion the industry against potential negative impacts, such as addiction and crowding out of small business owners.


Dustin is a writer about craft beer and a professional brewer in the city of Chicago. He has written for several magazines and has over a decade of experience in the beer industry. He is currently working on a book about the history of beer in Chicago.

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