The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

IL Craft Beer Distribution Rights A Step Closer to Safety

By Karl Klockars in Food on May 24, 2011 6:40PM

SavetheCraft Logo.jpg The right for Illinois craft brewers to self-distribute their beer is just a signature away from becoming Illinois law, and the veto-proof majority in both houses of the Illinois legislature means that SB754 is almost a done deal. Yesterday, by a vote of 112-0-3 in the House, Illinois overwhelmingly voted to allow small breweries to self-distribute their own product (up to a certain amount). We say it's almost a done deal because there's one last hurdle to cross - the motion filed by Anheuser-Busch in the courts that continues to argue in favor of a solution more beneficial to them.

As soon as that's out of the way, small brewers in the state will have the option of obtaining a craft brewer's license that will allow them to distribute 7,500 barrels of their own beer. While only a few breweries will be directly affected by the continued ability to deliver their own beer, this decision keeps the door open for future micro and nanobreweries to get their foot in the door of the craft beer market without the added costs of a distributor.

It seems the only people who aren't happy about the bill's passage is the main group it serves to assist. The Illinois Craft Brewer's Guild stated that they were "reluctantly opposed" to the bill at last week's Executive Committee hearing, despite admitting that "if you are a small craft production brewery this is a good bill." The sticking point for the ICBG was the amendment requiring a second brewing location for brewpubs to self-distribute. The amendment is restrictive to be sure, but the passing of this bill means there's room to work within the legislature in the future, as opposed to letting A-B lawyer up in the courts and try to wrangle their own way.

As always, for further coverage of the SB754 battle, we've been covering it extensively at GuysDrinkingBeer.