SB 754, a bill that addresses the distribution needs of microbrewers, such as Metropolitan and Half Acre, both Ravenswood brewers, was criticized by the SouthTown Star in an editorial.
“Under the guise of “protecting Illinois” from health risks, the law creates a fourth tier of legal restrictions that allows brew pubs to distribute their beer but only if they create a second brewery offsite. It’s a big but,” the editorial says.
The editorial notes that beer distribution in Illinois is largely a oligarchy controlled by a few families, including the Wirtz family and a relative of Jesse Jackson, Jr.
“There is nothing about the bill that remotely protects Illinois beer drinkers from anything. It mostly protects Illinois beer distributors from added competition, most notably from that giant evil empire of hops — Anheuser Busch InBev — which was trying to sneak into the state by buying a Chicago distributor,” the SouthTown Star says.
“What small brewers mostly wanted was a fair method to avoid the 25 percent added cost to their bill that mandatory distributorship arrangements demand,” it says.
The bill, which is waiting for the governor’s approval or veto, was criticized by Rolling Meadows Brewery owner Chris Trudeau. Trudeau told the Illinois Statehouse news he hasn’t opened his microbrewery in Springfield yet, but noted that self-distribution would be essential to his business. “It would really affect our business plan as a brewery. Instead of just being able to make the kegs on our farm … and drive it downtown, we’d have to send it to distributors,” said Trudeau.