IL Distribution Bill is Close

Bill would allow small amount of self-distribution

Illinois’ craft brewers are just a House vote and Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature away from cementing their right to distribute their own beer – although with very tight restrictions.

A House committee on Wednesday unanimously approved the distribution proposal, Senate Bill 754, even though it was opposed by both the Illinois Craft Brewers’ Guild and Anheuser-Busch InBev – the world’s largest brewery.

“The bill didn’t go as far as we would have liked, or that brewpub owners would have liked,” said Dave Strickland, a lobbyist for the craft brewers.

The guild opposes the measure because it requires to have a second, separate facility to qualify for self-distribution rights, Strickland said.

Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch regional vice president Mark Bordas wrote that the measure confers special privileges on “inefficient wholesalers,” while weakening competition and stifling outside investment.

The legislation, which passed the Senate earlier, defines craft brewers and allows them to self-distribute a limited amount of beer – 7500 bbls.

It stems from a 2010 lawsuit by Missouri-based Anheuser-Busch InBev after the state of Illinois blocked the beer giant’s bid to buy a Chicago-based distributor.