SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS — The Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI) will be assisting craft brewers throughout Illinois by providing beer for the celebrations and festivals during American Craft Beer Week, May 12-18, 2014, and Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 15-25), sponsored by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. ABDI Members are independent businesses in the second tier of the state-based three-tier regulatory system. The three-tier regulatory system was established to prevent vertical integration (brewers controlling the distribution channel and owning the retailers) which caused illegal business practices and societal problems.
Most craft brewers are small in size and lack the resources to distribute their products over a large geographical area. ABDI’s distributors form partnerships with craft brewers to provide their craft beers to bars, restaurants, and packaged retailers throughout the state. “ABDI has years of valuable experience and established relationships with retailers for over 75 years,” said ABDI’s President Bob Myers. “Distributors have always provided distribution for large and small brewers; now we are pleased to assist craft brewers in bringing their beer to retailers, restaurants, and bars.”
Illinois defines Craft Brewers as brewers who manufacture up to 30,000 barrels of beer per year. Craft Brewers may apply for a self-distribution exemption to allow the sale of 7,500 barrels of the craft beer per year directly to retail licensees. A Craft Brewer may work with a distributor and also self-distribute. “ABDI worked with the ICBG on this exemption to the law to provide a means for small start-up brewers to establish their beer brands with name recognition and a consumer following while maintaining the state-based regulatory system which creates a competitive, and orderly, marketplace for all brewers,” continued Myers.
Ryan Hermes, co-founder of www.guysdrinkingbeer.com who is in his third year of coordinating a Chicago Craft Beer Week event (South of 80) showcasing downstate Illinois brewers, relies heavily on cooperation from distributors. “Not only are Illinois distributors aware of the growth and potential of craft beer, whether it’s brewed locally or halfway around the world, but many are expanding their craft beer divisions to help grow their current craft brands and attract new ones,” said Hermes. “With the right people in place, a distributor can provide an invaluable marketing arm to craft brewers large and small.”
Distributors are licensed by the State of Illinois to import beer into Illinois and distribute beer to licensed retailers. “ABDI has always been its Members’ voice with legislators and regulators to implement responsible alcohol laws while maintaining the three-tier regulatory system,” continued Myers.
The Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois is the unified voice for Illinois beer distributors. Distributors are licensed by the State of Illinois to import and distribute beer to licensed retailers. ABDI Members directly employ more than 3,300 people across the state. They collect and pay $63 million each year in excise taxes to the state and pay more than $280 million in direct wages and health care benefits.