Mount Laurel Making it Law: Micro-breweries, Distilleries, Wine Rooms Permitted Around Town

When visitors set out to sample the beer at ‘Bout The Hops Brewing in Mount Laurel, they sometimes need a little extra guidance to find the place.

The micro-brewery is “in an industrial complex camouflaged in office building setting,” its website advises. “Fret not. You are not lost,” it says.

This 1½-year-old business is Mount Laurel’s sole brewery and opened in an industrial zone because that has been the only legal location in town for such operations.

Co-owner Kevin Quinn told the industrial zoning has its benefits, including cheaper rents per square foot, a loading dock and the potential for expansion. But he acknowledged a brewery in a commercial site on a main street would get more foot traffic, albeit in fixed-size space at higher-per-foot costs.

Soon, his micro-brewery — with selections that include TuHop Shakur, Time Continuum Disfunctioner and Hoptimus Prime — may get competition in town, which is something Quinn said he welcomes. Craft beer lovers often go on brewery hops — visiting several breweries in one sweep — so a higher concentration in one area can benefit all, he explained.

The Mount Laurel Township Council last Monday passed the first reading of an ordinance that would permit micro-breweries, craft distilleries and wineries and their tasting rooms in other parts of town. A public hearing on the ordinance and final approval is scheduled at the June 14 Township Council meeting.

Bill Giegerich, Mount Laurel’s economic development director, told that the new law would permit the alcohol-sampling rooms in neighborhood commercial areas, such as strip shopping centers, as well as in the town’s other business and industrial districts.

Giegerich said the Township has had continuing inquiries from businesses that want to open the micro-breweries or related businesses in town. To open anywhere but in industrial districts, a potentially lengthy and expensive application process would be needed to secure zoning variances, he said. The new ordinance seeks to bypass that process.

Neighboring Moorestown, a dry community for nearly 100 years until a voter referendum in 2011, on May 10 passed a similar ordinance. Giegerich said Mount Laurel studied Moorestown’s ordinance in crafting its own law. Mount Laurel’s new ordinance probably won’t go into effect until sometime in July, he said.

At ‘Bout The Hops, or BTH Brewing, the owners made many visits to Home Depot and built the outlet themselves, going for a rustic look, said Quinn, who used to live in Mount Laurel, but now resides in Columbus. 

“Every brewery is a little unique,” he explained. BTH focuses more on IPA (India Pale Ale) beers than some other micro-breweries in the area. Visitors can sample the craft beer from as many as nine of the 18 taps at BTH, where flights of four or six glasses are sold.

Like other micro-breweries operating under state law, BTH can serve small snacks, such as chips and pretzels, with the beer but cannot serve food. Some visitors order from local restaurants, often using menus on the wall or menus dropped in a bin by BTH or visitors themselves, Quinn said. In approving the operations, local officials have pointed to the economic benefits of brewery take-out orders on the local restaurant industry.

*Article courtesy of 70and73

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