Save The Craft: Odds & Ends

In Beer Politics by Ryan

While we all sit around waiting somewhat patiently to find out if House Bill 205 will be called in committee this week, we thought we should catch you up on a few odds and ends.

First, if you haven’t seen the Chicago Sun Times from this past weekend they editorialized on behalf of craft brewers in the state.

A bill being considered in the Illinois House offers a sensible middle road.

It would allow self-distribution for breweries that produce fewer than 20,000 barrels of beer a year, while keeping the three-tier system in place for everyone else. Brewpubs that produce fewer than 50,000 gallons a year also could self-distribute.

The distributors argue that the cap doesn’t have to be that high to protect craft breweries trying to get their business off the ground, and maybe there’s room to negotiate on that. But we can’t see a good argument for further watering down the bill.

Once craft breweries grow to a certain size, they often switch to a distribution network to expand their reach. The proposed legislation would protect their ability, in a highly competitive market, to get that far.

Good stuff.  If you haven’t done so already, read the whole thing here.

Don’t like reading?  Well, you’re in luck.  If you’re near a radio Thursday at 10:00 a.m. tune in to 88.7 FM, WLUW.  Ryan was interviewed about Save The Craft by Mike Stephen, host of Outside The Loop RADIO.  The program is a weekly news magazine that covers, “topics that don’t always get the proper attention in the media, all with a strong and independent Chicago slant.”  And if you’re not close to a radio you can listen to the podcast anytime at Outside The Loop RADIO‘s website.

Save The Craft is both about preserving the rights of the two breweries in the state that self-distribute and to support the future of craft beer in Illinois.  To that end we’ve been trying to put a face to this cause and tell you more about who’s craft we are are trying to save.

Argus Brewery, on Chicago’s south side, self-distributes about one-third of their beer while distributors handle the other two-thirds.  The brewery got it’s start by contract brewing for restaurants.  You can find their Country House Red Ale at Country House Restaurants in Clarendon Hills, Geneva and Lisle .  They also brew McCaffrey’s Irish Cream Ale exclusively for the Ballydole Irish Pub and Restaurant’s in Aurora, Bloomingdale and Downers Grove.  And they brew a steam beer called Patron’s Reserve for Quigley’s Irish Pub in Naperville.  You can also find the aforementioned beers, along with their popular Pegasus IPA, at Binny’s.

The other brewery that we are fighting for is Big Muddy Brewing in Murphysboro.  The produce about 400 barrels of beer a year and self-distributes every last drop of it.  Now, you may find it hard to fight for something that you’ve never tried.  But, you can’t use that excuse anymore.  According to their Facebook page Big Muddy’s stable of beers;  Kincaid Wheat, Saluki Dog Dunkel and Pale Ale are now on the shelves of Binny’s in St. Charles and Willowbrook.

So get out there and pick up a sixer of Pegasus, sip a pint of McCaffrey’s Irish Cream or grab an armful of Big Muddy’s beers.  The next best thing calling your local lawmaker and urging them to Save The Craft is to support the two self-distributing breweries that are putting out great craft beer.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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