We posted some information on Twitter and Facebook today regarding House Bill 205, so we figured we would cover all our bases and include the info here too. An amended version of HB205 was jettisoned out of the House Rules Committee today and assigned to the House Executive Committee. The committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Thursday is also the deadline for House bills to be moved out of committee. We’d tell you that it is “now or never” for this piece of legislation, but the speaker of the house has extended the deadline for certain pieces of legislation in the past and could be moved to do so again, if need be.
As for the aforementioned amendment, on Friday we told that the bill had been altered, dropping the barrel limit for breweries that want to self-distribute from 60,000 barrels to 20,000 barrels. This amendment directly addresses a concern of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, who oppose the legislation. They felt that 60,000 barrels was far too high to constitute a “small brewery”. They also oppose allowing brewpubs to distribute their own beer.
As soon as we find out when this bill will go before committee we’ll be reaching out to a group of lawmakers that sit on the House Executive Committee to urge the passage of HB205. And we would like you to do the same. Passage of this bill out of committee would be the first step in a long road towards making, not just Chicago, but Illinois a craft beer destination now and in the future.
Federal Judge Robert M Dow Jr has issued a stay on his ruling in the case of Anheuser-Busch v. Illinois Liquor Control Commission, extending the deadline for the legislature to reach a resolution in the matter to May 31st. That date coincides with the end of the legislative session. Judge Dow initially gave state lawmakers until March 31st to re-tool the Illinois Liquor Control Act after he found the Act discriminated against out of state breweries.
This is huge news for both Argus Brewery in Chicago and Big Muddy Brewing in Murphysboro. Argus self-distributes about one-third of its beer while Big Muddy self-distributes all of the roughly 400 barrels of beer they produce each year. Continue reading
Dark Horse 4 Elf
Spiced Beer, 11.5% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Karl: As I glance through some of the reviews of the 4 Elf on Beer Advocate, they all seem to say the same thing: “Should age well.” “Probably better with age.” Well, they were right. We sat down with three years of 4 Elf and determined the same thing. At least I did.
The fresh ‘10 Elf was full of raisin flavor and a gushing wetness to it, like it was wetter than normal fluids. There’s a viscosity & physics problem in there somewhere but as I am not an engineer, I’ll defer to someone else to figure it out. I have beer to drink.
Onto the ‘09: I expected this to deepen significantly in flavor over a year’s time, and I didn’t get what I thought I would. The flavors were more distinct but quieter, almost muted. Raisins and spice poke through, but the notes only got so high.
And then, the ‘08: NOW we’re talking. Ginger, cinnamon, spice cookie, rich body and full flavors – either it takes a couple years for this beer to really get crackin’, or the ‘08 batch just kicked a little more ass. Either way, this Elf was clearly superior to the other two years. Continue reading
Last month we told you to expect some changes to either HB205 or SB88 pertaining to the barrel limit for breweries that want to self-distribute. Lawmakers sponsoring the legislation formally took that step this week. On Thursday State Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) filed an amendment to House Bill 205 reducing the limit to 20,000 barrels or 620,000 gallons of beer. The legislation that was initially filed would allow any brewery that brews less than 60,000 barrels, or 1.86 million gallons of beer, to distribute their product.
The reduction in the amount of beer brewed directly addresses a concern voiced by the Association of Beer Distributors. In a recent email to state lawmakers urging them to oppose HB205 and SB88, the ABDI called the 60,000 barrel limit “ridiculous.”
“The ICBG (Illinois Craft Brewers Guild) claims that small brewers need self distribution to establish their brands in the market but the ICBG wants to define a small brewer as a brewer producing less than 60,000 barrels of beer per year to be allowed to self distribute their product. 60,000 barrels equals 1,860,000 gallons of beer or 826,667 cases of 12 ounce beer or 19,840,008 12 ounce beer bottles – THAT’S A LOT OF BEER. “
An amendment to SB88 could follow suit or HB205 may be the bill lawmakers try and move first. Continue reading
When it comes to Saving the Craft, we’ve spent a lot of time telling you about what could happen, and what we’d love to see happen, but we haven’t shown you the other side of the argument. While we’re not aligned with any particular group at the table and this is purely a grass-roots movement, we are supporting the efforts of the Craft Brewer’s Guild, but the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI) have their own arguments to make.
We’ve recently received a copy of a document that ABDI has been distributing. It makes their arguments about the legislation currently making its way through Springfield. (If you’re new to the Save the Craft coverage, you can find our discussion of those laws in our original post. Oh, and then you can call your respective legislators accordingly.) Rather than post the full letter and pick it apart, we’re highlighting this section as it goes right to the heart of their argument and pretty well defines the differences between the two camps.
Subject: Please Oppose the deregulation of alcoholic beverages found in SB88 and HB205
The ICBG initiated SB 88 and HB 205 to not only address the concern that two Illinois brewers would lose their ability to distribute, but they saw this as an opportunity to give brew pubs a new, presently unauthorized, ability to self distribute their beer. These brew pubs are riding the coat tails of the court decision. If this proposal had merit, the brew pubs would put in a free standing bill. Adding brew pubs to the legislation is an attempt by the ICBG to add confusion by inferring that the court addressed the brew pub issue. Brew pubs were never a part of the Anheuser-Busch v Schnorf case and should be dropped from this legislative proposal.
Furthermore, the ICBG claims that the brewers need self distribution to get their beer to market, yet the ICBG cannot cite one example of a small brewer or brew pub being denied distribution by any Illinois beer distributor. The truth is ABDI members want these brands and will distribute every ounce of these brewers’ brands within the State’s already proven regulatory system known as the Three-Tier Regulatory System.
We will continue to work with the small brewers. However, at this time we respectfully request that you say no to these ridiculous amounts requested and oppose SB 88 and HB 205 in their current form.
A few quick points: Continue reading
For almost two weeks we’ve been laying out the intricacies behind the proposals before the Illinois House and Senate that will shape the future of craft beer availability in Illinois. Today, we’re going to introduce you to one of two breweries in the state that distributes their own beer: Argus Brewery.
Argus’ first beer was not poured at their brewpub or from a bottle on a crisp fall night, but from the taps of the Ballydoyle Irish Pub and Restaurant in Bloomingdale, about an hour’s drive west of Chicago. It was November of 2009 and the beer, McCaffery’s Irish Cream Ale, was billed as a Guinness alternative but lighter in body. It was also brewed exclusively for the restaurant, which has other locations in Aurora and Downers Grove. That’s how Argus got its start, brewing contract beers for restaurants. They now have two other exclusively brewed beers; a red ale for Country House restaurants (Clarendon Hills, Lisle and Geneva) and a steam beer (think Anchor Steam) for Quigley’s Irish Pub in Naperville. In the last year-and-a-half, Argus (run by the father-son team of Bob and Patrick Jensen) has added eight more beers to its portfolio including the popular American IPA, Pegasus. Continue reading
As we mentioned last week, Save the Craft is a marathon, not a sprint. There’s not much news to report from downstate today, but we wanted to pass on a couple things just to keep the ball rolling.
1) Thanks to Matt Watson with the Columbia Chronicle for another illuminating report on Save the Craft. Good info here from Greg Harris, sponsor of HB 205, and someone you should be supporting:
According to Harris, the Association of Beer Distributors of Illinois—a lobbying firm—and Anheuser-Busch are fighting the legislation and attempting to force small beer producers to compete with international corporations’ interests.
“They want to control the marketplace,” Harris said. “The small brewers want to be able to break into the marketplace. Then after a certain point, when they are able to compete with the big guys, they will go through distributors.”
While the amount of beer purchased in Illinois has remained the same in recent years, Harris said people have been buying more craft beer and straying away from big brands…
Harris said the maximum capacity in which the microbreweries and brewpubs would be able to self-distribute is up for debate. Lobbyists and lawmakers are working on the details of the bill, which is currently in committee. Harris said because of the ABDI and Anheuser-Busch’s lobbying powers, craft brewers will need to come to a compromise for legislation to pass.
Meanwhile, Save the Craft continues its campaign to help who they refer to as “the little guys.”
2) While Illinois currently allows small brewers and brewpubs the right to self-distribute up to a point, would you believe that a state like Michigan, who has been branding itself as the Great Beer State, doesn’t allow its dozens of brewers to do the same thing? With all the success that Michigan has had with their breweries, it’s hard to believe that the smaller guys don’t have the same freedoms that Illinois brewpubs have – and yet, they’re still pushing forward. From MLive.com: Continue reading
“Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice, and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.”
Founders Backwoods Bastard
Scotch Ale, 10.2% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Karl: For a baseline Bastard experience, Ryan poured a regular Dirty Bastard, a beer that my brain always recognizes as “Hey, I could be having a Founders Porter right now instead.” While the Dirty Bastard pounded me with memories of Porters that once were, the present tense of the beer was hammering my taste buds with solid and unadulterated fudge. Ever had Kilwins? Ever been to Mackinac Island? Michiganders know from fudge, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that my first fudgy-beer experience comes from one of the state’s best breweries. But: Once you go bourbon-barrel-aged Backwoods, you don’t go…well, back. Continue reading
RYAN: First, let us start by thanking all of you who have visited the site, reached out to your lawmaker, blogged about this, tweeted it, shared the link on Facebook, or went old school and told somebody sitting next to you. You are the driving force behind this campaign and we thank you. We can give you all sorts of incentive and background information on this issue, but once we do it is in your hands to act on it.
With that in mind we wanted to give you an idea of how Save The Craft will move forward. If there is one thing I learned while covering the Illinois legislature a lot of what happens in Springfield is hurry up and wait. But once things get going they can really get going. Right now it appears we are in that hurry up and wait stage. The multitude of groups that have their hands in this legislation (the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, The Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, the Wine and Spirit Distributors of Illinois, MillerCoors and A-B InBev – among others) are still meeting in Springfield. They may be this/close to an agreement on what Senate Bill 88 or House Bill 205 will look like, or they may not. It all depends on who you ask. So instead of putting you on a daily roller coaster of rumor and innuendo we are going to stick to the facts and what we know to be true.
If you don’t see a daily update from us on the Save The Craft campaign it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything happening or that the issue is on the back-burner. Instead, we are working behind the scenes reaching out to lawmakers, staffers, lobbyists, brewers and bloggers to keep this effort in front of the people it should be in front of.
There is a possibility that this won’t be resolved by the March 31st deadline set by the federal judge. And even if it is, with the looming shadow of the Anheuser-Busch Bill, this issue could very easily continue all the way through till the end of the legislative session on May 31st. So hunker down, dig in and fill up your favorite growler. We are in it for the long haul and we hope you will be too.
We alluded to this last week and told you a little bit about on Monday, so today we thought we would put together a program of sorts and tell you a little bit more about the players involved in what will eventually be the Anheuser-Busch Bill. Like the saying goes, “you can’t know your players without a scorecard.”
Oh, and in case you were curious, there still is no language for HB 1988. It remains a “shell bill” that could be amended at any time, even on the floor of the Illinois House.
Monday, we told you that State Representative John Bradley is the sponsor of this legislation.
He’s a democrat from Marion whose district borders the district that includes Murphysboro’s Big Muddy Brewing Company. Bradley was appointed in 2003 to fill the seat of then State Representative Gary Forby when he was appointed to the state senate. A year after he was appointed Bradley was called out by then Governor Rod Blagojevich for being a wallflower. According to an April 2005 article in The Southern Blagojevich said, “he (Bradley) should quit taking his marching orders from House Speaker Mike Madigan.” That same year Bradley made waves for introducing legislation to eliminate riverboat gambling in the state.
Most recently he introduced, along with the A-B shell bill, a proposal to allow communities in the state to ban certain breeds of dogs. This comes after a 9 year old boy in southern Illinois was attacked by a pit bull last summer.
If you live in Illinois then you know that lawmakers in the state voted to increase the state’s income tax by 66%. In the same ’05 The Southern article Bradley was quoted as saying, “From the very day I took office, I pledged not to support a tax or fee increase, and I haven’t.”
photo courtesy the McHenry County Blog
Look down the left side of the board and you will see “Bradley, J” with a green light lit next to his name indicating he voted “yes” on the income tax increase. A paper copy on the final roll call (which solidifies the vote) also shows he voted yes. Continue reading