Governor eases restrictions, opens tap for Illinois brewers
Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sunday signed legislation that makes it possible for Illinois brewers to serve a greater selection of beers at their own taprooms, giving smaller breweries new opportunities to expand their businesses without having to open new locations. The new law will also let brewers buy and sell ciders for the first time.
“This legislation removes antiquated regulatory barriers that have stifled the growth of smaller craft brewers and limited beverage choices for consumers who visit their taprooms,” Rauner said. “Craft beer production is a growth industry in our state and this will help ensure its continued success.”
Included in the legislation is an allowance for Illinois brewers to sell their own beer to other Illinois breweries, which will then be able to sell the purchased beer directly to customers in their taprooms, and to purchase cider for selling in their taprooms.
The Brewer Warehouse Permit created by HB 4897 will allow small and growing breweries to expand their operations by using warehousing and storage facilities instead of opening second locations or moving to larger spaces. The permit will allow for Class 1 and Class 2 Brewers to transfer and store, at an off-site warehouse within 80 miles, as much as 930,000 and 3.72 million gallons, respectively, of beer that the brewery manufactured.
Prior to this bill, brewers were restricted from any of the above by outdated regulations set forth by the Liquor Control Act of 1934. In addition to being unnecessary to ensure safe liquor consumption, the controls also created a barrier to market entry for small businesses and protected established businesses from competition.
“The craft brewing industry is growing every year across Illinois with wonderful, unique beers for consumers to enjoy in all regions of our state,” said Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield. “These changes help ensure everyone can continue to explore and learn about our local breweries and support our local small businesses.”
“This law is a step toward a stronger free market economy. It gives greater lift and encouragement to the entrepreneurs in our state,” said Sen. Barickman. “It makes it easier for Illinois’ craft brewers to market their products and do business in Illinois. Smaller and growing breweries will have a better chance at succeeding-knowing they can expand their operations and reach without as many limitations.”
“Today represents an important step toward strengthening and growing the Illinois craft beer industry,” said Danielle D’Alessandro, executive director for the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. “HB 4897 not only enables our state’s taprooms to offer a more diverse selection of guest beer and cider, but it also eliminates product transfer and storage barriers that were cumbersome for our members. We’re grateful for the support of Gov. Rauner and all those who made this legislation a priority.”
“There is a tremendous sense of community among Illinois craft breweries,” said Matt Potts, founder, CEO, and brewmaster at DESTIHL in Normal, Ill. “This law allows our breweries to tap into that community even more, promoting collaboration, selling one another’s craft beer, and giving our patrons more of what they want.”
The new law is effective immediately. Proponents of the legislation include the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, Illinois Restaurant Association, numerous craft brewers and the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois.