Over the past few weeks and months, members of the Illinois Homebrew Alliance (IHA), the Associated Beverage Distributors of Illinois (ABDI) and Illinois Licensed Beverage Assocation (ILBA) have been working in partnership to present a bill to the Illinois Legislature that would allow homebrewers to legally continue things like tastings, sampling events, contests and more; things that were technically somewhat outside the boundaries of legality due to the lack of language on it in the state’s alcohol laws.
Today, GuysDrinkingBeer can exclusively report that the language of a bill has been agreed upon, and has been sent to Representative Keith Farnham (D-Elgin). It’s expected to be filed in the Illinois House by when the legislature returns from spring break next week.
While this doesn’t mean that the bill will sail through quickly, the partnership between the two camps basically means that they’ve worked out their differences, made sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, and the relevant parties both think this is a bill that should move forward through state government with minimal to no objections.
We’ll post the full text of the bill soon, but here are the most relevant and interesting points:
- This bill refers to beer, mead and cider only – sorry home vintners, not wine or sake.
- A homebrewer special permit will be required for a tasting event.
- Defines what a homebrewer is and is not.
- Allows the private consumption of homebrew wherever store-bought or brought beer can be consumed: tailgating and Ravinia would both be cleared for homebrew.
- Defines the rules for tastings, samplings, and judging events.
There still needs to be committee hearings, votes in both chambers and a signature by the governor, but this is a major first step in the process and it’s the IHA’s hope that this can proceed quickly enough to allow for scheduled and planned events to proceed without problem or the looming cloud of prosecution later this year.
Hats off to all those responsible for helping craft this bill, on both sides.