Homebrewing Legislation Headed to the Illinois State House

In Beer News, Beer Politics by Karl6 Comments

ilcapitolOver 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.

About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Draft Magazine, Time Out Chicago and more. He also helms the GDB social media outreach and prefers a good porter over just about anything.


  1. Sean

    This is great news, I’d love to know what IL homebrew clubs can do to help get this bill passed.

  2. Karl Author

    Hi, Sean –

    As we understand, the IHA is preparing an outreach program to let people know exactly how they can contact their representatives and support this bill. We’ll keep everyone posted as well.

  3. beardo21

    While this may seem like a win for homebrewers its really a loss. A careful reading of the bill suggest that the bill is actually a win for industry groups that would like to restrict homebrew. The bill largely clarifies as legal certain things what homebrewers are already doing and that no one is disputing, like BJCP contests, drinking homebrew in the park, and at sporting events/concerts that allow you to BYOB. In exchange, the bill effectively bans tastings at festivals unless they are at a location that otherwise would not serve beer (ie a park or fairground), but bars and most event spaces would be banned, as opposed to it being unclarified. It forces an onerous new restriction on brewing off your own property by requiring anyone who brews outside of their home to notify the ILCC. It makes it illegal to share homebrew with interested non-members at a homebrew club meeting. And it creates a new level of liability for homebrew meetings at bars. To be honest, the bill as drafted seems like more of a win for ABDI than for homebrewers.

  4. Ryan


    Amendment 1 is the original language that was filed during the Fall Veto Session. There is different language that will ultimately become the bill. It should be filed in the coming days as Amendment 2.

  5. Chris

    Oh well. A homebrewer can dream. The legislation in Amendment 1 looked good.

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