WBEZ | craft beer http://www.wbez.org/tags/craft-beer Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Beer tours big business for small brewer http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/beer-tours-big-business-small-brewer-109820 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/P1150205.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Among all the benefits of Illinois&rsquo; fast growing craft beer scene is the proliferation of brewery tours.</p><p>Tours have the potential to be big business for small brewers. They draw customers and build brand identification. For inspiration, Illinois-based brewers would do well to look north, to <a href="http://www.lakefrontbrewery.com/">Lakefront Brewery</a> in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.</p><p>Lakefront is Milwaukee&rsquo;s largest craft brewer. Its beers are available in Chicago, but many people make the trek to take its brewery tour, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2012/10/02/10-best-beer-cities-in-the-world/1608885/">one of the most popular stops</a> on the American craft beer circuit.</p><p>On a recent Friday afternoon, I toured the facility with my colleagues and <em><a href="http://strangebrewspodcast.tumblr.com/">Strange Brews</a> </em>co-hosts Tim Akimoff, Andrew Gill and WBEZ producer Joe Deceault. We were among a group of about twenty, many of them repeat customers. One Chicago woman has taken the tour five times. When I asked why she kept coming back she had a simple answer - because you can drink.</p><p>Lakefront is proud of the fact that unlike those other tours, they start you off with a beer in hand. There&rsquo;s a stop for beer midway through the tour &ndash;and a cold one waiting at the end.</p><p>Russ and Jim Klisch started Lakefront in 1987, after experimenting with home brewing.The brothers&rsquo; beer roots are deep - their grandfather delivered beer for Schlitz. It was the big four - Schlitz, Pabst, Blatz and of course Miller - that once made Milwaukee the beer capital of the world. Now only MillerCoors is still brewing in Milwaukee. So small independents like Lakefront are starting to fill the gap.</p><p>Last year, Lakefront topped 40,000 barrels. It&#39;s the second largest craft brewery in Wisconsin. And tours have helped drive their business. Russ Klisch says the idea came early on.</p><p>&ldquo;I gave a real technical tour,&rdquo; remembered Klisch. &ldquo;I have a chemistry degree and I thought everybody who took the tour wanted to learn about how to make beer. My brother really didn&rsquo;t know anything about that. He just started telling jokes on the tour and gave away beer free. And everybody took his tour and nobody took mine.&rdquo;</p><p>Our guide was Evan Koepnick, Lakefront&rsquo;s tour supervisor, improv comedy performer and self-proclaimed class clown. He called himself our &ldquo;brewery dungeon master.&rdquo;</p><p>There is something dungeonesque to Lakefront. The brewery&rsquo;s housed in an old coal-fired power plant. A winding flight of stairs led us into a room crowded with big steel tanks, vats and barrels. There Evan gave us a speed history of beer.</p><p>He got people to yell out &lsquo;reinheitsgebot!&rsquo;, &nbsp;the term for the ancient German beer purity laws. He demonstrated the role of yeast in fermentation by aggressively cuddling one of the guys on the tour.</p><p>The big finish involved an old bottling line once featured in the television show Laverne and Shirley. There was karaoke, a reenactment of some of the show&rsquo;s opening credits and a group selfie.</p><p>There are a few other historic markers at Lakefront. The large tasting room has some stunning light fixtures from a long-gone beer garden, plus the chalet that the Milwaukee Brewers mascot Bernie used to slide out of when the team scored a home run.</p><p>That history drew Leanne and Dean Anderson from Antioch Illinois. They&rsquo;ve toured Miller and the Pabst mansions. They think Lakefront follows in that tradition.</p><p>&ldquo;I like Miller but it&rsquo;s too international now,&rdquo; said Leanne. &ldquo;I like the hometown craft breweries.&rdquo;</p><p>History and tour hijinks aside, these events are important to Lakefront&rsquo;s future. Evan Koepnick said they&rsquo;ve helped pay for new equipment and brewing experiments. Last year Lakefront &nbsp;extended the number and hours of the tours, including Sunday. And Koepnick said they&rsquo;re always busy, even during football season.</p><p>And that has Lakefront rising&mdash;<a href="http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-22766-lakefront-brewery-on-the-rise-%7C-eat-drink-%7C-shepherd-express.html">to the top of craft beers in the Midwest.</a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author">Alison Cuddy</a>&nbsp;is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/beer-tours-big-business-small-brewer-109820 Proposed craft brewery sparks debate in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/proposed-craft-brewery-sparks-debate-chicago-109563 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/forbidden root.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-532c06b7-bfd9-6e19-ee0d-f6e39bfdb4ef">Even in a city with a number of new craft beer ventures, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ForbiddenRoot">Forbidden Root </a>stands out. It will soon be what its owners say will be the nation&rsquo;s first &ldquo;botanical brewery&rdquo; &hellip; if it can overcome the opposition of some Chicago residents who do not want it in their West Town neighborhood.</p><p>Co-owners Robert Finkel and B. J. Pichman say they&rsquo;re reviving an early, if now unfamiliar, American beer tradition of brewing with botanicals -- &nbsp;from flowers to fruits and nuts.</p><p>Finkel says that was a necessity for early Americans, who didn&rsquo;t have a &ldquo;beautiful vat&rdquo; of grain and hops at hand.</p><p>&ldquo;They took whatever was in the ground and experimented,&rdquo; said Finkel. &ldquo;They came up with some really cool recipes, and botanic beer sort of ruled the day, until the CO2 cartridge was invented!&rdquo;</p><p>So far, Finkel and Pichman have come up with four beer recipes using ingredients ranging from key limes to black walnuts. Pichman says they&rsquo;ll brew a stout with &ldquo;chocolate mass, toasted pecans and a hint of magnolia flowers&rdquo; for a forthcoming series of beers made with &ldquo;single origin exotic chocolates.&rdquo;</p><p>The question is where Forbidden Root -- <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/08/19/a-voyage-to-oak-park-in-search-of-forbidden-root">which has thus far functioned as a gypsy operation</a> -- will open. Pichman says he and Finkel found a spot on Chicago Ave., on the stretch between Ashland and Damen, which once housed <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chiski/5549991599/in/set-72157626375555432">a small movie theater</a>. Forbidden Root plans to construct both a brewery and a tasting room in the space, along the lines of <a href="http://halfacrebeer.com/">Half Acre Beer Company </a>on Chicago&rsquo;s north side.</p><p>Pichman lives in the neighborhood, and he says he likes the area&rsquo;s small business atmosphere.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s where Finkel and Pichman have come up against some obstacles. They need package and tavern liquor licenses to serve beer on premises and to sell it to go. And that stretch of Chicago Ave. currently has a liquor moratorium, which bans most new liquor licenses.</p><p>Alderman Proco &ldquo;Joe&rdquo; Moreno could lift the moratorium, and <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140121/logan-square/community-votes-lift-liquor-moratorium-on-california-western">has done so recently</a> in other areas of the ward. But in a previous debate around liquor sales in the area, he promised a local community group, the East Village Association (EVA), that he would not lift any liquor moratoriums before the end of his term in 2015.</p><p>The EVA <a href="http://news.eastvillagechicago.org/">plays an active role in zoning and other development issues in the neighborhood.</a> EVA President Neal McKnight said his group, about a year ago, surveyed some community members about liquor moratoriums. Though he could not tell me how many responses he got, McKnight said &ldquo;overwhelmingly, the result was people did not want them lifted.&rdquo;</p><p>McKnight chalked that up to a concern about &ldquo;divisive liquor issues,&rdquo; including &ldquo;vagrancy, substance abuse, increased automobile traffic, public urination.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not saying that everybody who goes to a brewpub does that,&rdquo; said McKnight. &nbsp;&ldquo;But as you get those concentrations of nightlife, and people who are attracted that and are using alcohol, that becomes a problem.&rdquo;</p><p>Forbidden Root&rsquo;s Finkel says he understands those concerns and even supports liquor moratoriums for communities to block &ldquo;undesirable development.&ldquo; He just does not think it was meant to keep a high-end brewery such as his out of the neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t attract that, it actually attracts a much more discerning clientele,&rdquo; said Finkel. &ldquo;It tends to be foodies, and people who like organic food and people who love beer. It&rsquo;s a different crowd.&rdquo;</p><p>McKnight stresses he is not opposed to Forbidden Root coming into the neighborhood. He is more concerned that granting the brewery a liquor license &ndash; or a zoning change that would allow it to operate as a commercial rather than a business enterprise &ndash; would open the door to less responsible developers.</p><p>In an interview, Alderman Moreno called that concern a &ldquo;red herring&rdquo; and says he has not seen any evidence of it, at least in his ward. Moreno did agree with McKnight&rsquo;s assertion that licensing and zoning are &ldquo;very blunt instruments&rdquo; that likely require some kind of reform.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t just lift that address, by law I have to lift the whole moratorium,&rdquo; said Moreno. &ldquo;And I didn&rsquo;t put any of these moratoriums down. They precede me, and I bet they precede the former alderman.&rdquo;</p><p>The reform of Chicago&rsquo;s liquor laws has become a bit of a hot topic lately, from licensing of <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/21/239121625/byob-soon-may-not-be-so-a-ok-in-chicago">BYOB establishments</a> to <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local/chicago_news&amp;id=9397444">Sunday morning sales</a>. And Moreno says he is willing to lift the liquor ban to allow for a brewery, if he sees &ldquo;broad support&rdquo; from the community for Forbidden Root&rsquo;s proposal.</p><p>Forbidden Root&rsquo;s Finkel says the owners are &ldquo;happy to work with community groups and the alderman to do what we need to do&rdquo; to gain support for their enterprise. They will start down that road Thursday night, when they convene a community meeting at the site they hope will one day soon be their brewery.</p><p><em>The community meeting on Forbidden Root&rsquo;s proposed brewery takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday at 1746 W. Chicago Ave.</em></p><p><em><a class="underlined" href="http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author">Alison Cuddy</a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook</a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a>. </em></p></p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 10:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/proposed-craft-brewery-sparks-debate-chicago-109563 Evanston’s first craft brewery is Temperance in name only http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-12/evanston%E2%80%99s-first-craft-brewery-temperance-name-only-109416 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/evanston liquor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The first-ever craft brewery in the Chicago suburb of Evanston is officially going public.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://temperancebeer.com/">Temperance Beer Company</a>, which just started production this year, is opening its tap room tonight.</p><p dir="ltr">The space is small but smart, with sleek, light wood fixtures and exposed brick walls. That is thanks to owner Josh Gilbert&rsquo;s first career as an architect.</p><p dir="ltr">But the brewery&rsquo;s name is a reference to Evanston&rsquo;s past. The city was founded as a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; community -- meaning production and sales of alcoholic beverages were forbidden. In the late 19th century, it became home to the <a href="http://www.wctu.org/frances_willard.html">Women&rsquo;s Christian Temperance Union.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Led by Frances E. Willard, the organization fought for social reforms, such as the eight-hour work day, and tried to stamp out tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.</p><p dir="ltr">That history had a huge and lasting impact on Evanston, which only issued its first liquor license in the early 1970s. Plenty of liquor stores and bars have come and gone since then. But even today getting alcohol into Evanston is not easy.</p><p dir="ltr">The path to Temperance was first cleared by Paul Hletko, who owns the craft distillery <a href="http://fewspirits.com/">Few Spirits</a> in Evanston. Few just opened in 2011, but Hletko&rsquo;s products already have won a number of major awards.</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, his rye whiskey was just <a href="http://whiskyadvocate.com/whisky/2013/12/11/whisky-advocate-award-craft-whiskey-of-the-year/">named craft whiskey of the year</a> by Whiskey Advocate magazine. To get there, Hletko had to persuade Evanston officials to change the city&rsquo;s laws so a distillery could be set up and licensed.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I lost track of the hearings after 15,&rdquo; said Hletko. &ldquo;But I never took a &lsquo;no&rsquo; vote.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Gilbert says he got the same treatment from lawmakers, which he described as much better than in the bigger city next door.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Dealing with permits of any kind is way more difficult in Chicago than in Evanston,&rdquo; said Gilbert. &ldquo;Here, there was no pushback. Everyone was helpful and in favor of the project.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Gilbert grew up in Evanston, which is probably best known as the home of Northwestern University. He started thinking about a brewery in 2008, when he says the economic downturn &ldquo;gave me a lot of free time to explore other projects.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">He found head brewer Claudia Jendron at a bowling party hosted by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. Jendron&rsquo;s ball got stuck halfway down the lane, and Gilbert watched in horror and awe as she walked down the lane to get it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was great, I&rsquo;m such a good bowler,&rdquo; joked Jendron. &ldquo;I killed it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Jendron at the time was brewing at Goose Island Beer Company, long the dominant craft brewery in Chicago (and, since 2011, a division of mega-beer corporation Anheuser-Busch InBev). It was a skill she picked up after starting out as the company&rsquo;s receptionist.</p><p dir="ltr">She and Gilbert found they had similar tastes in beers, and thoughts about how to run a brewery. Despite Jendron&rsquo;s tenure at the famed Goose Island, Temperance&rsquo;s recipes came from Josh&rsquo;s experiments in home brewing.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Home brews are home brews,&rdquo; said Jendron. &ldquo;But I saw something in them. The flavor was awesome.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Jendron and Gilbert say they will serve all of the Temperance beers in the tap room (there are six, including a wheat beer, an ESB and a porter) and small &ldquo;tastes&rdquo; made from local foods.</p><p dir="ltr">And though Evanston has changed, Gilbert still sees a connection between their current efforts and the Temperance movement of the past.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think we are reformers on a micro scale here in Evanston,&rdquo; said Gilbert. &ldquo;Because it was historically dry. And we&rsquo;re dampening it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Temperance Tap Room opens tonight at 2000 W. Dempster Street.</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 17:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-12/evanston%E2%80%99s-first-craft-brewery-temperance-name-only-109416 Illinois lags in craft beer renaissance http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/illinois-lags-craft-beer-renaissance-107592 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/sandbox/business/beer.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/beermap.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 620px;" title="(via NewYorker.com)" /></a></div><p>On Tuesday <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/craft-brewers-win-small-victory-springfield-real-winners-are-distributors-107514" target="_blank">I wrote about Illinois&rsquo; legal restrictions on craft brewers</a>. In short, for brewers to be treated at all differently than industry giants in Illinois they must agree to brew no more than 30,000 barrels of beer each year.</p><p>A new story <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/06/idea-of-the-week-mapping-the-rise-of-craft-beer.html" target="_blank">from the New Yorker</a> puts that limit into context. Using data from the Brewers Association they created <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/sandbox/business/beer.html" target="_blank">an interactive map</a> that charts the speed of growth in the craft beer industry across the country. Given that, recent developments in Illinois appear less impressive.</p><p>With just 67 businesses that fit the Brewers Association&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/business-tools/craft-brewing-statistics/craft-brewer-defined" target="_blank">definition of craft breweries</a>, Illinois ranks 11th out of 50. We were also 11th in growth from 2011 to 2012 with a 37.32 percent increase. It gets worse from there. Our total production of craft beer in 2012 was 87,993 barrels- good enough for 26th place. Worst is the ratio of craft breweries to citizens- 2.6 per 500,000 people, or 34th place.</p><p>None of the 50 largest craft breweries are located in Illinois and only Half Acre cracks the top 50 fastest-growing breweries list (at 45).</p><p>While the new crop of breweries that opened in Illinois last year is fairly robust, one can&rsquo;t help but wonder if the limits of our licenses will slow their development. The New Yorker article points out that one of the only states that produced less craft beer is North Dakota. Their analysis of the decline sounds vaguely familiar:</p><blockquote><p><em>The former, where production fell by nearly ten per cent despite an ongoing oil-fuelled economic boom, may serve as a cautionary tale: onerous licensing and distribution policies, as well as production maximums, have historically made the state what one beer entrepreneur, in<a href="http://bismarcktribune.com/business/local/beer-plans-a-brewin-in-bismarck-mandan/article_d717450e-0c67-11df-96a9-001cc4c002e0.html" target="_blank"> a 2010 article in the Bismarck Tribune</a>, called &ldquo;a dead zone for craft brewing.&rdquo;</em></p></blockquote><p>At least Illinois now has a clear-cut way for brewers to get started with the craft brewer&rsquo;s license, but it is telling that the biggest craft beer operations in Illinois are a California brewer&rsquo;s expansion (Lagunitas, number six on the 50 largest breweries list, is opening a Chicago facility later this year) and an operation owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev (Goose Island&rsquo;s being owned by Anheuser-Busch disqualifies them from being considered a craft brewer by the Brewers Association&rsquo;s standards).</p><p>That leaves this beer enthusiast wondering why Illinois can&rsquo;t find a way to define craft beer in a way that more closely resembles the rest of the industry. &nbsp;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/business-tools/craft-brewing-statistics/craft-brewer-defined" target="_blank">the Brewers Association&rsquo;s definition</a>:</p><blockquote><p><em>An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.</em></p><p><em>Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.</em></p><p><em>Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.</em></p><p><em>Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.</em></p></blockquote><p>That&rsquo;s a difference of 5.97 million barrels a year from Illinois&rsquo; craft brewer license. While there is a value to the license for beginning brewers, it could soon prove a damper to growth in the industry. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/craft-brewers-win-small-victory-springfield-real-winners-are-distributors-107514#comment-918715631">One commenter on my Tuesday story</a> suggested that Illinois needs to add different levels of licenses. Perhaps the 2014 General Assembly will get to work on that. Right after they vote on pension reforms and same-sex marriage.</p><p><em>Andrew Gill is a web producer for WBEZ. Follow him on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Twitter</a> or <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/108371235914028306960/?rel=author">Google</a>+.</em></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 13:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/illinois-lags-craft-beer-renaissance-107592 Craft brewers win small victory in Springfield, but the real winners are distributors http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/craft-brewers-win-small-victory-springfield-real-winners-are-distributors-107514 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Revolution Brewing by DR000.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Illinois&#39; booming beer scene will operate a little bit differently after laws governing the industry were tweaked in Springfield this month. The General Assembly approved two measures that subtly change the power structure behind the brewing industry.</p><p>First, the craft brewer&#39;s license was revised to allow small breweries to make more beer. Second, brewers were prohibited from owning any interest in beer or liquor distributors.</p><p>To understand why these changes were made and how they&rsquo;ll impact drinkers in Illinois, it helps to look at how breweries build their business. The cheapest, most basic way is to brew a small amount of beer and sell it directly to a bar or liquor store. That gets actual customers consuming your product and hopefully looking for it again in the future.</p><p>Unfortunately for the fledgling brewer, the three-tier system devised after Prohibition aims to keep beer producers from distributing their product themselves (it also aims to keep brewers from selling directly to the public).</p><p>Despite the intentions of the three-tier system, until 2010 Illinois law was written loosely enough that breweries could legally self-distribute though few actually did.</p><p>However, all that changed when Anheuser-Busch tried to buy out City Beverage distribution. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission blocked the purchase, so Anheuser-Busch filed a federal lawsuit claiming unfair treatment. They claimed allowing Illinois brewers to self-distribute meant they had to allow Anheuser-Busch, an out-of-state brewer to do the same. The ruling that followed prompted the Illinois legislature to revise the Liquor Control Act of 1934 to treat small brewers differently than giants like Anheuser-Busch.</p><p>That led to the craft brewer&rsquo;s license, made law in 2011. It&rsquo;s original form allowed holders to brew up to 15,000 barrels per year and self-distribute up to 7,500 barrels. For reference Goose Island sold 127,000 barrels of beer in 2010 before being purchased by Anheuser-Busch.</p><p>This brings us to a more pricey way new brewers build their business- by opening a brewpub. Brewpubs don&rsquo;t fit neatly within the three-tier system since beer producers are retailing their beverages directly to drinkers. Still, they can be an incredible accelerator for new brewers and beer laws are often written with exceptions for brewpubs.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s the route Josh Deth took when he opened Revolution Brewing in Logan Square in 2010. The two-hour waits for tables proved Revolution could skip the self-distribution step. Soon Deth was working to open a production brewery in a building on Kedzie Avenue that could accommodate a 100,000 barrel brewing system. At the time Illinois law seemed to allow a brewpub owner to also operate a traditional brewery provided they&rsquo;re in different locations.</p><p dir="ltr">However, before the Kedzie facility opened the craft brewer&rsquo;s license was conceived. Though all the terms weren&rsquo;t agreed upon yet, Deth was told it would become a requirement for brewers to also own brewpubs. So he signed up, hoping it would also allow him to make full use of his massive new facility on Kedzie.</p><p dir="ltr">When the final language limited craft brewers&rsquo; output to 15,000 barrels, Deth went ahead with his business plan undeterred. But he redoubled his lobbying efforts to raise the ceiling.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The last thing we should be doing is putting caps on the growth of business in Illinois,&rdquo; Deth said in a recent phone conversation.</p><p dir="ltr">This year he enlisted lobbyists and the Illinois Craft Brewers&rsquo; Guild to revisit the craft brewer&rsquo;s license.</p><p dir="ltr">Their goal was to increase the limit to 200,000 barrels a year. But the bill that passed this week only raised the limit to 30,000.</p><p dir="ltr">Deth says the distributor lobby watered it down.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I have a great relationship with my distributor,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;When they&rsquo;re here picking up my beer we&rsquo;re friends, but then they go to Springfield and work against my interests.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Alcohol distributors in Illinois mostly got what they wanted out of the General Assembly this year. Not only did they molify the craft brewers for the time being without threatening their bigger accounts, they also effectively undermined Anheuser-Busch&rsquo;s efforts to gain a foothold in their tier of the three-tier system in Illinois.</p><p dir="ltr">When Anheuser-Busch attempted to buy City Beverage in 2010, they already owned 30 percent of the distributor.</p><p dir="ltr">That was allowed under the previous law, but no longer: HB2606 explicitly forbids anyone licensed to manufacture beer from owning any interest in a distributor. By contrast, Anheuser-Busch <a href="http://anheuser-busch.com/index.php/our-company/operations/wholesale-operations/" target="_blank">wholly owns distributors in nine other states</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Staff in Senate President Cullerton&rsquo;s office explained that &ldquo;keeping beer distributors independent and not locked into one brand allows for more variety of choices a distributor may sell which allows for more consumer choice at market.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Executive Director of Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, Karin Lijana Matura, applauds the General Assembly for limiting &ldquo;the reach and power of the Industry giants while at the same time responsibly allowing craft brewers and distillers to develop new brands.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Despite the three-tier system&rsquo;s roots in reform, the distribution tier has a rather spotty track record. As recently as 2010 Crain&rsquo;s and the Better Government Association found widespread <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20101120/ISSUE01/311209986/pay-to-play-infects-chicago-beer-market-crains-investigation-finds" target="_blank">evidence of pay-to-play practices</a> in Chicago&rsquo;s beer distribution market. In that article Deb Carey of Wisconsin&#39;s New Glarus Brewing Company, one of the most respected craft breweries in the country, said they pulled out of the Chicago market because retailers and distributors expected them to participate in illegal business practices.</p><p>As for Josh Deth and Revolution Brewing, this year they may remain under the new 30,000 barrel limit, but next year they expect to exceed it. The Kedzie Avenue brewing facility could support 100,000 barrels once fully built out and as long as the demand is there, they plan to keep growing.</p><p>So how do they plan to keep it legal? Since they don&rsquo;t self distribute and the Kedzie facility could be considered a brewpub, they may exist in a grey area. At least until the license is changed again.</p><p><em>Andrew Gill is a web producer for WBEZ. Follow him on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Twitter</a> or <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/108371235914028306960/?rel=author">Google</a>+.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 08:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/craft-brewers-win-small-victory-springfield-real-winners-are-distributors-107514