Experience guides the law and the development of workable statutes is no exception to the idea that a society’s legislation should be reviewed and updated often as times change and circumstances reveal what works and what doesn’t.

Illinois Senate Bill 2216 and the companion House Bill 3423 provide keen and reasoned approaches to this method of lawmaking looking to proceed with some small advancement that will benefit Illinois brewers as well as Illinois bars, restaurants and not for profits.

The bills, pressed as part of this congressional session provide for the following advancements of consumer choice and availability as well as small business rights allowing greater economic opportunities to libation purveyors in Illinois’s small business community:

The legislation:

  • Expands the availability of the Beer Showcase permit (a permit allowing a holder to host a beer tasting event) to allow Class 1 and Class 2 brewers to obtain those permits which are now available only to beer distributors and Class 3 brewers. The license would still limit the beer sold under the permit by brewers to the beer they make on their premises (i.e., not beer they’ve bought from other breweries to sell in their taprooms).

These types of permits should be made available to all commodities to allow wineries to showcase wine and distillers to showcase spirits and to allow the wine and spirits distributors to showcase their products. So… this is a good start.

  • Increases the amount of beer a Class 2 brewer can transfer from its Class 2 facility to its brewpubs from 31,000 gallons (1,000 barrels) to 139,500 gallons (4,500 barrels).

This brings the Class 2 transfer rights closer in line with the inter-brewpub transfer rights whereby one production brewpub can transfer 155,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) to its other wholly owned brewpubs.

  • Increases the allowable self-distribution privileges of Class 3 brewers from 6,200 gallons (200 barrels) to 77,500 gallons (2,500 barrels) per facility for up to each of their allowed three facilities (232,500 gallons in the aggregate).

Expanding the self-distribution rights to get to the Class 1 7,500 barrels should find support across the tiers. Given the plethora of brands, brewers that can get to the limit or close to it have already run the crucible of sales success and offer a viable, proven, and sustainable commodity to Illinois beer distributors who can help those breweries expand from the sale of 7,500 barrels upwards.

  • Changes the sale rights for not-for-profits and retailers hosting special events under a special event retailer’s license or the special use permit license from solely sales for on-premise consumption to sales for both off and on-premise consumption.

This expands the rights of festivals in their offerings leading to greater consumer opportunities and chances for winery, distillery and brewer informational promotions to become economic opportunities. Your NFP fundraiser, your church, your bake-sale will become a whole lot more profitable.

  • Establishes the express right to “Consumer loyalty and reward programs” for retailers and breweries, distilleries and wineries with taprooms/tasting rooms. Such programs are defined as those offered to consumers allowing them to access rewards for purchases made at the retailer such as point accumulation programs, club memberships, and mug clubs. The expressly allowed activities stated under this portion of the bill are:

1) offering incentives to consumers for participation in the program.

2) offering discounts on the purchase of products to consumers participating in the program.

3) offering those benefits of the programs to members to the exclusion of non-members.

4) offering the ability to purchase a glass or mug and allowing the retailer or manufacturer to offer discounts on the price of drinks to the “owner” of that glass or mug.

An excellent step forward, not so much for breweries in particular, but for bars and restaurants looking to have member clubs or generate business and increase sales that will allow them to add alcohol sales to any existing inducements. The inclusion of all industry members serving alcohol is a great benefit to consumers and sets this program apart from states that have statutory guidance on programs such as Pennsylvania. 

  • Eliminates the water usage reporting requirements of the Beer Production Quantity Reporting required of Class 1, 2, and 3 breweries and brewpubs. Note that this production reporting does not apply to breweries that do not hold a Class 1, 2, or 3 license.

Good riddance. This was a silly and discriminatory attempt at tracking water usage that provides absolutely no useful or actionable information to anyone reviewing the reports. Many brewers have varying processes for cleaning, brewing, and using water for other operations and manufacturing, so providing information on the gallonage of water used does not provide information about the amount of beer produced as it could have been used for cleaning, drinking, or making other beverages, even non-alcoholic ones. Moreover, the fact that this requirement was not enacted for any other alcoholic beverage manufacturers and was not even instituted for brewers, only those small producers holding class 1, class 2 or class 3 licenses treated small brewers differently than any others.

Locate your representatives and let them know you support these advancements.

The post The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild “Beer Omnibus” bill contains some excellent advancements for bars, restaurants, wineries, distilleries and not-for-profits. With commentary. appeared first on Libation Law Blog.