New legislation would loosen restrictions on craft breweries in Illinois

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(The Center Square) – New legislation is being filed in the Illinois legislature Friday that sponsors say will help craft breweries stay afloat amid devastating economic losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Brewers Economic Equity and Relief (BEER) Act would allow permanent delivery, direct-to-consumer shipping and self-distribution privileges for the state’s nearly 300 craft breweries.

Danielle D’Alessandro, executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, said the changes are updates to an outdated law that was adopted in the 1930s.

“It changes, it modernizes it based on consumer preferences or trends, based on technology, based on the evolution of society, so we want to try to keep in mind with that and make sure our small alcohol producers are able to remain competitive,” said D’Alessandro.

She adds that in 2019, Illinois craft breweries contributed over $3 billion in economic impact and supported more than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs.

If adopted, craft breweries would be allowed to continue delivering craft beer to consumers as well as begin utilizing third-party apps such as UberEats and DoorDash.

The bill also would allow direct-to-consumer shipping via FedEx, UPS or another carrier, a privilege that wineries have enjoyed since 2005. The Guild said consumer shipping makes it easier for consumers to get beer where they are and helps breweries grow market share.

Another aspect of the legislation would give the state’s 150 brewpubs self-distribution privileges and allow them to move small amounts of their own product to nearby retailers without relying on distributors. The Guild said local, small-batch deliveries are often burdensome and cost-prohibitive for distributors and, as a result, brewpubs have a difficult time getting them to agree to and prioritize the deliveries.

Bob Myers, president of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois said he would like to discuss legislation with his members.

“I have not heard one distributor complain that this is an issue,” Myers said in a statement. “We take pride that our members serve all retailers, including brew pubs, with exemplary service.”

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