Rev Brew Owner Josh Deth on Selling the Brewpub: “Why in the Hell Would I Want to Do That?”

One of the more scintillating things said by outgoing Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois President Bill Olson, in the second installment of our two-part interview with him, is that Rev Brew Owner Josh Deth told Olson he had plans to sell off the brewpub once they opened their production facility.revbrew

We were approached during the final negotiations on SB 754, it was brought to our attention that one brewpub in Chicago, Revolution Brewing, was in the process of creating a production brewery. Well, under the current law at that point in time, the Commission already said you cannot hold a brewpub license and a craft brewer’s license – or any brewer’s license. You can’t do it.

Their [Revolution’s] argument was, “we need time to transition from our brewpub to our production brewery” and gave us every indication that when they made that transition they were going to get rid of the brewpub.

There’s two sides to every story, so we reached out to Deth to get his take.

Deth tells us, in an email, that he had no plans to sell the brewpub then — or ever. “The brewpub is the home base of Revolution and will always be if we are around,” said Deth. “We bought that building and gut rehabbed it so we could be around for a long time.”

Deth also says Olson’s claim that a brewer couldn’t also own a brewpub prior to SB 754′s passage is false. “Back then Goose [Island] was operating both brewpubs and a brewery with some common ownership for almost 15 years,” said Deth. ” I have correspondence with [the] ILCC that clarified (pre SB 754) that we could also have that common ownership, which we then banked on when we started construction of our Kedzie Ave brewery.”

Deth goes on to say that it wasn’t until the ABDI added, “screwy provisions,” to SB 754 that the issue of brewery/brewpub common ownership was called in to question by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, who changed its tune on the issue.

Ryan

About Ryan

With over fifteen years of news experience under his belt, Ryan spearheads The Guys in-depth coverage of beer news and craft beer legislation in Illinois and neighboring states. When he’s not digging through the annals of state government he’s looking for unique beers to cellar.

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1 Thought.

  1. I would disagree that there are two sides to this story. Bill Olson’s only goal as president of ABDI was to maintain protectionism of beer distributors by maintaining the antiquated three-tier laws at every turn. That is ABDI’s job and as the single biggest political campaign donation entity in the state of Illinois, they’re quite effective at it.

    They correctly see that craft beer is tearing down these silly, post-prohibition era, protectionist laws. If a brewery wants to own both a brewpub and a production brewery, that is absolutely none of beer distributors’ concerns. Many states allow this without issue (although there are many states with even more protectionist laws such as Texas).

    Basically ABDI wants to protect the cartel of Illinois beer distributors at the peril of small businesses. ABDI is bad for the economy, bad for breweries, bad for Illinois. Let the market decide how breweries distribute their beers just like bakeries decide how to distribute their goods. If a bakery wants to own a restaurant and a production facility, there’s no problem. Beer/wine/spirits is no different.

    Gary Gulley
    Panic Brewing, Chicago

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