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Join "Save the Craft" and Help Small Breweries Distribute in Illinois

By Anthony Todd in Food on Feb 23, 2011 4:20PM

SavetheCraft Logo.jpg Do you want to see your favorite craft beers sold in stores throughout Illinois? Do you want your neighborhood brewpubs to be able to distribute their beer? Call your state legislators and support "Save the Craft," a campaign to revise the Liquor Control Act to make it easier for small, craft brewers to get their beers to the drinkers who want them. Bills are before the Illinois State House and Senate right now, and they need your support.

Save the Craft, run by the fellows at GuysDrinkingBeer, has been watching the progress of these bills for a while now, and they have decided to take action. These bills would allow any brewer who produces less than 60,000 barrels to deliver their products to retailers themselves, circumventing the liquor distribution middle-man and assuring their access to larger markets. This isn't just a problem for beer - we've seen, over and over again, the legal difficulties that small producers face in getting their products to market. Regulators often don't quite know how to handle these businesses.

The advocates behind Save the Craft are very clear about one thing - this is about competition, not subsidy. They simply want consumers to have access to all beers. "We are advocating for increased access to the market for small breweries, brewpubs and so on, as well as the right for breweries like Two Brothers to own distributorships like Windy City Beverage. Anything that increases the market access to people who love good beer and want it to you is something that every craft beer enthusiast should support. We can get macrobrews at many gas stations, convenience marts and grocery stores all over Illinois. Don’t you want that same opportunity for your favorite Illinois-based IPA, Imperial Stout or other malted beverage?"

They have made it incredibly easy to learn more about these bills and to participate in their passage. On their website, they have contact information for the sponsors of the bill, ways to find your own state legislator, and a sample script to use for calls and emails. This is an issue on which the public can make an actual difference - if you love craft beer, tell your representatives that you want to be able to buy it in stores. There is some opposition to this bill; as you can imagine, larger macro-breweries aren't too fond of the potential competition, and so the bill is not assured passage. Is this issue as important as the budget crisis? Probably not. But it is important to local businesses and retailers - and if it's important to you, give your representative a call. Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter - hashtag #savethecraft.

Full Disclosure: Chicagoist's own Karl Klockars is one of the beer lovers behind this campaign.