Beer me!

I knew I had written about the possibility of a brewery opening up in our dry town before, but it just hits me that it was in early 2018.

A June 20 Facebook post by Brewery Thirty-Three promises that it “…will open very soon!” The waiting is the worst part.

Students of local history will recall that the clause forbidding the sale of liquor in Riverton was baked into the deeds of property owners from the beginning.

Even before the time of Riverton’s founding, alcohol began to be widely perceived as a Maybe we need to combine the two with a  serious threat to social order. The temperance movement was in full swing, and the largely Quaker makeup of the Philadelphia merchants who founded Riverton chose to build their village on temperance principles.

This excerpt from “Early Days In Riverton”, an article in The New Era, Christmas Number Nineteen-Nine, explains how it came to be:

The Riverton Improvement Company was created a corporation by the State of New Jersey and approved March 12, 1852. On August 23. of that year, Daniel L. Miller conveyed Riverton to the Riverton Improvement Company by a deed, in which there appeared a “liquor clause,” which read as follows: “Shall not at any time hereafter manufacture or cause to be manufactured, sell or cause, or knowingly permit to be sold, directly or indirectly, in or upon the premises hereby conveyed, or any part thereof, any spiritous, vinous, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors, except as a medicine, or for medical purposes in cases of sickness.” The properties were then deeded back to their several owners. 

The exclusion worked for over 160 years.

It is possible for a dry town to have a winery or brewery that offers tastings since alcohol manufacturing licenses in New Jersey are issued by the state and are not regulated by municipalities.

The workaround came in December 2017 when Borough Council adopted an ordinance allowing a “limited brewery” as an acceptable use in the borough’s business district.

A “mere” five years later, construction crews commenced renovating a 4000 sq. ft. five-bay industrial building on South Broad behind the Light Rail station into a modern craft brewery and taproom called Brewery Thirty-Three.

To paraphrase an old saying, ” The wheels of progress grind slowly.”

Even so, the day seems to be around the corner when a Riverton resident will be able to walk or drive over to 601 Lippincott Avenue and quaff a pint of craft beer.

We’re jealous. Brewery Thirty-Three’s Facebook page already has more likes and followers than we do after twelve years, and they haven’t even opened yet!

If only preserving history was as urgent as the quest for local stout. Maybe we just need to combine the two.

Here is a link to the 2018 article. -JMc, Ed.

Well, ya got trouble, my friend, …right here in River City*


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John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

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