Craft brewers might scale back distribution soon

May 24, 2011

Craft breweries in Illinois could have to scale back their beer distribution under legislation recently approved in the Statehouse. Small craft breweries can sell unlimited amounts of beer directly to local bars and liquor stores. But the legislation awaiting Governor Pat Quinn's approval would scale back that distribution.

The measure allows a brewery manufacturing 465,000 gallons of beer a year to sell only half of that to markets unaffiliated with the maker. And brew pubs like Revolution Brewing in the city's Logan Square neighborhood will have to open up another facility in order to self-distribute.

Revolution's Josh Deth says the law would stunt the industry's growth.

"The problem is the bill does not help everybody equally. This bill does not help brew pubs. Brew pubs will not be able to self-distribute their beer from their existing brew pubs. And that's what we were fighting for," Deth said.

The legislation stems from a pending lawsuit filed by Anheuser-Busch against the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. Anheuser-Busch argued that it's discriminatory to allow in-state brewers to self-distribute when out of state companies can't do the same.