SOMERDALE, NJ - During his visits today of Southern New Jersey's small businesses, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, original co-sponsor of the Small BREW Act legislation, joined Flying Fish Brewering Company President Gene Muller and his team to tour the brewery's Somerdale headquarters.
"It's the first microbrewery here in Southern New Jersey, and the first new brewery in the region in more than half-a-century. The $6 million expansion in 2012 has enabled Flying Fish to triple production and create two dozen new jobs," said Senator Menendez, who also lauded the brewery's efforts to help people recovering from Superstorm Sandy. "Flying Fish is not only a great business and a good brewery, but also a good partner in the effort to recover from Sandy and get New Jersey families to work and help rebuild New Jersey."
In December 2012, in an effort to help victims of Superstorm Sandy, the Flying Fish Brewing Company released its special edition "Forever Unloved Sandy" beer. Proceeds from the sale of this beer, which have topped $45,000, will be donated to Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. A second run of "Forever Unloved Sandy" beer will be available in stores later this month.
"We appreciate Senator Menendez taking the time to visit our brewery and learning about all that goes into making our business work," said Muller. "We also appreciate his sponsorship of the Small BREW Act, which if enacted, will be tremendously beneficial to all New Jersey breweries."
The "Small BREW Act" (S. 917, The Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act) was introduced in May and would fuel regional economies by reducing the excise tax on each barrel of beer brewed by small brewers. Senator Menendez last met with Gene Muller and other members of the Brewers Association on Capitol Hill during American Craft Beer Week in May.
Under current law, brewers generally pay an $18 excise tax on each barrel brewed. Small brewers, currently defined as those that brew fewer than 2 million barrels of beer a year, pay a reduced excise tax of $7 per barrel for the first 60,000 barrels of beer they brew each year. The Small BREW Act would reduce the excise tax applicable to brewers producing up to 6 million barrels per year to just $3.50 on the first 60,000 barrels and $16 on additional barrels below 2 million per year.
An economic impact study by Dr. John Friedman at Harvard University found that the bill would generate $183.1 million in economic activity in the first year and almost $1.04 billion over five years and would also create nearly 5,230 jobs in just the first year. New Jersey is home to 31 craft brewers, with at least 28 more in the planning stages.
The small brewer threshold and tax rate were established in 1976 and have never been updated. Since then, the annual production of America's largest brewery increased from 45 million barrels to 105 million barrels. Raising the ceiling that defines small breweries from 2 million barrels to 6 million barrels more accurately reflects the intent of the original differentiation between large and small brewers in the United States.
Somerdale Mayor Gary Passanante was among the public officials who were also present for the tour.