Last Call: Illinois Brewers Hope New Bill Will Spur Growth


Illinois Stakeholders Agree on Bill Amendment

The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois have negotiated language to include in a bill – HB 3237– that would loosen restrictions on how brewers in the state operate.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the two sides have agreed to an amendment that would quadruple the barrel limit on brewers that operate as many as three retail fronts — including taprooms and brewpubs — from 30,000 to 120,000 barrels. Under the status quo, brewers that operate multiple retail components cannot exceed the 30,000-barrel threshold, which they have said limits their growth potential. Specifically, the amendment creates a Class 2 Brewer License, which would allow brewers manufacturing up to 120,000 barrels to transfer beer across its “commonly owned” properties with approval from the Illinois Liquor Control Board. Class 2 brewers may not self-distribute, however.

The agreed upon language, per materials from the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, also reclassifies (but creates no change in law) the craft brewer’s license to a Class 1 Brewer license. Such license holders cannot possess a brewpub license, but can self-distribute up to 7,500 barrels of the total 30,000 allowed under this particular license.

The bill, in its original form, also clears the way for manufacturers and distributors alike to furnish free advertising on social media.

The bill is scheduled for a third reading in the Senate today.


A-B Ceases Production to Provide Drinking Water to Storm Victims

Anheuser-Busch halted beer production at its Georgia brewery on Wednesday night in favor of getting drinking water into the hands of flood victims in Texas and Oklahoma, reports NBC News. According to the report, A-B said it cut beer production in order to produce 50,000 cans of water for the American Red Cross. The two states have been ravaged by torrential storms this week that have killed at least 25 people, disappeared more than a dozen, and damaged thousands of homes while leaving tens of thousands more without power.  “It’s something we’re uniquely positioned to do in a very timely period,” A-B’s Georgia brewery manager Rob Haas told NBC. The article said 2,000 cases, each carrying 24 cans, are expected to arrive in affected communities in the coming days.

New Jersey Lawmaker Introduces Three Beer Bills

New Jersey Senate Republican leader Tom Kean has introduced a trio of bills that, if passed, would afford the state’s brewers with additional business opportunities. First, S-2910 creates a new state permit that would enable breweries to sell their products at local farm markets in municipalities where the sale of alcohol isn’t prohibited. S-2911 allows for the consumption of food on the premises of microbreweries. The bill does not allow for brewers to sell food, but rather, for visitors to buy food from a separate vendor and enjoy it at the brewery while visiting, touring and sampling. Lastly, S-2912 would allow for brewpubs to sell and distribute up to 1,000 barrels of beer to licensed retailers both in and out of state.

Girls Pint Out Co-Founder Convicted of Felony Offenses

One of the co-founders of Girls Pint Out, a national nonprofit craft beer organization for women, has been sentenced after pleading guilty to a slew of felony theft related offenses in Indiana, reports the Indy Star. Megan Peters, who helped coordinate the club’s chapters and maintained its website, was convicted of theft, forgery, fraud and check fraud, according to the website. Those charges stemmed from the theft of nearly $25,000 from her employer and clients. Expressing regret for her actions, Peters, who has been ordered to spend up to six months behind bars, said she committed the crimes to alleviate the financial burden of being a single mother, the website added (additionally, court documents showed she has paid back at least $15,000 of stolen money). As for her role with Girls Pint Out, president Amanda Wishin told the website that Peters was asked to step down when the organization became aware of the charges, adding she hasn’t been involved with the club since June 2014.

Michigan Craft Production Up 41.5 Percent in 2014

Michigan’s craft beer production increased 41.5 percent in 2014, according to data released by the Brewers Association and reported on by MiBiz. The state’s 159 craft breweries produced 825,103 barrels of beer in 2014, securing its rank as 10th in the nation by volume and 6th for the sheer number of operating craft breweries.

Kansas City Opens More Doors for Small Brewers

On Thursday, the Kansas City Council voted to allow nano-breweries to operate in neighborhood strip malls and storefronts, reports the Kansas City Star, repealing a rule that had previously required breweries of less than 5,000 sq. ft. to be located in industrial areas. Such smaller spaces, the council agreed, are more accommodating to nano-breweries who in the past were forced to fit their minute operations in large industrial spaces. The ordinance also clarifies that no more than 50 percent of a nano-brewery’s product may be produced for sale to a wholesaler, while at least 50 percent must be sold direct to be consumed on- or off-premise.