Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn signed HB 1573 into law, which doubles the amount of beer a craft brewer may manufacture from 15,000 to 30,000 barrels (bbls). HB 1573 does not affect the ability of a craft brewer to self-distribute up to 7,500 bbls or to simultaneously hold a brew pub (retailer) license.
“ABDI has been supportive of the craft brewers,” said Bill Olson, Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI) president. “We supported their efforts to be allowed to sell growlers and to self-distribute in order to help them get established to create a consumer base.”
ABDI members, who are local, independent beer distributors, have established craft divisions to handle the new products and deliver as many different choices as possible to consumers.
On June 1, 2011, SB 754 was signed into law creating a craft brewer license and an exemption to self-distribute 7,500 bbls if they manufactured no more than 15,000 bbls. SB 754 also allowed a brew pub to simultaneously own a craft brewer’s license with the intent of transitioning the brew pub to a craft brewer. Due to the popularity of craft beers over the past two years, craft brewers will now be allowed to manufacture no more than 30,000 bbls and continue to self-distribute 7,500 bbls.
Through a three-tier regulatory system (independent manufacturers, distributors and retailers), the General Assembly’s policy “to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of this state through the sound and careful control and regulation of the manufacturing, distribution and sale of alcoholic liquor” is maintained.
“Although the craft brewers wanted a larger increase in both production and self-distribution, it is important to maintain the three-tier regulatory system,” Olson continued. “Brewers holding a retail license might lead to out-of-state brewers claiming discrimination, forcing the state to allow large brewers such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors, etc., to open retail stores creating tied houses.”
HB 1573 was sponsored by Representative Charles Jefferson (D-Rockford) in the House and Senator Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) in the Senate, and the final bill was the result of several meetings with Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the ABDI, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild (ICBG), and the Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois (WSDI).