Central Jersey beer lovers, get ready to clink your glasses to celebrate new freedoms that local breweries and their customers will enjoy in 2024 after a hard-fought legislative battle. Brewers and customers alike have a lot to be excited about, as do patrons of all local beverage makers, including wine and spirits.

On January 16, 2024, New Jersey enacted a law to relax restrictions that had limited brewery coordination with food trucks, the number live music performances, and other special events. The changes are leading to much more fun in Central Jersey’s craft breweries, to go with many award-winning beers.

Asheton’s offers a D&R Canal beer!

“The main impact for our guests with the passage of the bill is the ability to create more events at our beautiful spot,” said Jeremy Lees, owner of Flounder Brewing, located in a historic barn in Hillsborough.  “We will now be bringing singer-songwriter based musicians every Friday for Acoustic Fridays as well as a lot of great pop-up events.  For March come by as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for four days straight.”

“At Ashton Brewing we are excited to be able to offer more than just great beer to our customers,” said owner Steve Ashton. “We’ve already started bringing in live music on Fridays and Saturdays and we are looking into jazz on Sundays. And that’s just the beginning. Look for yoga classes, more pet adoptions and beer educational seminars.”

Another change is allowing local beer at more special events—for example, on farms and at historic sites. “The new law allows us more opportunities to go off-premise, so we will use that to be the exclusive beer vendor at the Battle of Bound Brook April 13 and 14, serving our Staats Pilsner at the Abraham Staats House,” Ashton said.

Lone Eagle Brewing in Flemington is most enthusiastic about having more food in the brewery. “Perhaps the biggest things our customers will benefit from is our newfound ability to coordinate with food trucks and unlimited events,” says owner Bob King.  “Anyone serving alcohol understands that consuming food with alcohol is simply being responsible.  Our plan is to coordinate with all local restaurants and fill in the gap with food trucks to further create great experiences for our customers.” On March 16, Cousin’s Maine Lobster Truck will be at Lone Eagle Brewing along with Live Music.

Central Jersey Offers Wine & Spirits Too!

Bellemara Distillery offers a still-view with your drink.

Lone Eagle’s historic hometown of Flemington is a hub of local beverages, history, and fine dining, as you’ll find by visiting the Love Flemington website. They also are home to Skunktown Distillery, and they are a starting point for the historic Black River & Western Railroad, which offers a popular Wine Train to visit Old York Cellars in Ringoes, which is always worth a visit whether by train, car, or bicycle!

In addition to award-winning wines, Central Jersey’s wineries offer great live entertainment. You’ll find great comedy scheduled regularly at Old York Cellars, and a wide range of live music—from jazz to classic rock and country—at Hopewell Valley Vineyards on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. In fact, one of the owners is an accomplished jazz musician!

At Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes, live music will be served with wine on Grilled Cheese Weekend March 16-17, and there will be wine and music at the Spring Artisan Weekend April 27-28. A musical high point of the year will be the Sourland Mountain Festival at Unionville Vineyards July 13th.  Buy your festival tickets early because they usually sell out.

Enjoy the Old Hights beer garden before dinner at nearby 12 Farms restaurant.

Central Jersey also has a growing distillery scene, with Sourland Mountain Spirits in Hopewell, Bellemara Distillery in Hillsborough, and Skunktown in Flemington. Central Jersey’s distillers will tell you it’s all about the quality of local water, sourced from deep and pristine aquifers, under the Sourland Mountain or in the “Skunktown” area near Sergeantsville in Hunterdon County.

The month of March 2024 will be an especially wonderful time to visit Central Jersey’s beverage makers, with numerous special events for St. Patrick’s Day. And if a wine or beer garden is what you like, April and May will be glorious for fresh air sipping at all Central Jersey wineries, and many breweries, especially Old Hights in Hightstown, Lone Eagle, and Flounder.

And regardless of where you get your beverages, round out your day with a visit to one of Central Jersey’s great farm-to-table restaurants, farms, or historic sites. You’ll also find great shopping and culture in beautiful and historic Princeton, Flemington, and Somerville.

Besides brewery reform, 2024 also has the distinction of being the first year when the State of New Jersey has presented Central Jersey as an official region of the Garden State, following a signing ceremony last summer. To find what all the fuss is about, learn about the region’s special places and activities at DiscoverCentralJersey.com.

For more information about everything to see and do in Central Jersey, visit discovercentralnj.com.  This article is supported in part by a grant from New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism.


Live music in the garden at Hopewell Valley Vineyards.