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Schlafly Scrapping Plans For A Chicago Brewpub

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 11, 2014 8:30PM

2013_11_18_schlafly.jpg Last November our friends over at Guys Drinking Beer had us and other beer geeks salivating over the prospect of St. Louis’ Schlafly opening a Chicago brewpub. Schlafly had even been scouting possible locations in North Center to join an area of the city already awash in suds.

That’s no longer happening thanks to Illinois’ brewing production caps. Guys Drinking Beer’s Ryan Hermes reports Schlafly has put plans for a Chicago brewpub on indefinite hold because it brews too much beer. The craft brewers license in Illinois carries a provision where a brewer can also own and operate a brewpub, but only if a brewer makes less than 30,000 barrels a year. This is another antiquated law on the books originally intended to keep big brewers from gaming the three-tier distribution system and setting up multiple brewpubs. These days it limits how a brewery can operate, especially the growing number of craft brewers turning to a brewpub/tap room business model with eyes toward long-term growth.

This news comes on the heels of proposed legislation that would cap sales of off-premise consumption for breweries at 50,000 gallons, effectively curbing the growth of Illinois breweries like Revolution and Destihl and forcing other breweries that wish to open brewpubs like Solemn Oath to reconsider. The state has received several license applications from out-of-state breweries to open brewpubs (Hermes notes Schlafly isn’t one of them) and the legislation has others out-of-state breweries reconsidering opening Chicago brewpubs. Hermes notably names Three Floyds, which was believed to be scouting locations for a Chicago brewpub last year but is now focusing its attentions on expanding operations in its hometown of Munster, Ind.

Schlafly CEO Dan Kopman told Hermes he found a building to lease or buy that he now cannot because of the barrel limits.