Chicago had more than 60 local breweries in operation back in the early part of the 20th century. Today, it’s once again becoming a local brewing mecca, exploding with brands like Goose Island Beer Co., Two Brothers Brewing Co., Revolution Brewing, Metropolitan Brewing and Half Acre Beer Co. But that’s Chicago. What about the rest of Illinois?
Apparently, the southern part of the state is starting to catch the craft fever too, and according to an article on Southern Business Journal, self-distribution is playing a significant role in small breweries getting their feet wet and driving business.
The ability of breweries to self-distribute their own products was the key that unlocked an industry in Southern Illinois that had most likely been underserved, according to brewers in Southern Illinois.
In June 2011, former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 754 creating a craft brewer license, and an exemption to self-distribute 7,500 barrels if a brewery manufactured no more than 15,000 barrels. That number has been increased to 30,000 barrels a year in 2013, and then increased again in 2015 when Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill allowing breweries to make up to 120,000 barrels of beer per year. The bill also allowed a brewpub to simultaneously own a craft brewer’s license.
Breweries across the nation are embracing and pushing for similar laws to help encourage craft beer growth in their local neighborhoods. As beneficial as a distributor or wholesaler relationship can be, for the small, local craft brewer just getting off the ground, self-distribution is the optimal route to take. But what will your state allow? That’s the $1 million question — or rather the 60,000 barrel (bbl) question — as many states divide up self-distribution privileges by production size. These distinctions are often the same as the state’s definition for “craft brewery,” but even those parameters are sub-divided into smaller amounts allowed for self-distribution.
The Brewers Association (BA) is a great resource for self-distribution laws across the country. The BA has created a database of U.S. state laws relating to self-distribution, i.e., the ability of a manufacturing brewery to make direct sales and deliveries to retailers. Check it out right over here.
According to the Southern Business Journal, small craft breweries in southern Illinois selling directly to retailers has allowed the community to grow strong, propelling a lot of good brands. From the article:
Little Egypt Beer, Scratch Brewing Co., Von Jakob Brewery, Abbey Ridge, Big Muddy and Route 51 Brewing — which is under construction now — are all in Jackson County. St. Nicholas Brewing Co. calls Du Quoin home in Perry County, and The White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery is under construction in Sparta.
[And] the boom of craft beer isn’t just felt by those in the industry, but restaurants and liquor stores have noticed the changes and have made adjustments.