Court rules against AB which disallows self-distribution
A federal court has thwarted Anheuser-Busch’s attempt to buy the rest of its largest Chicago-area distributor; and in the process, made it unlawful for craft brewers to self-distribute in the state.
The court upheld an Illinois Liquor Control Commission ruling that because A-B’s parent, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is based outside the state, it can’t control a distributor in Illinois. Citing the Granholm decision, the court said that if an out-of-state brewery can’t own a wholesaler, than neither can an in-state brewery.
Unless the state legislature acts to change the law, self-distribution by any brewery, including in-state craft brewers will be against law after March 31.
A-B had wanted to buy the 70 percent interest it does not already own in City Beverage-Illinois from privately held Soave Enterprises Inc. of Detroit, but the commission threatened to revoke City Beverage’s license to distribute beer in Chicago if the deal went through.
A-B filed a lawsuit in federal court in Chicago to challenge the constitutionality of the commission’s decision.