Craft Brewers Lose in Illinois

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.


  1. Brewtopian says

    What I find really ironic about this dilemma is that should HR 5034, a bill that the national beer wholesalers are pushing heavily in Congress passes it would make it impossible for this distributor to challenge the states authority to regulate alcohol sales. Perhaps these dill weeds will recognize the corner they are painting themselves into with bills like these and instead start to support consumer choice.