Schlafly Chicago Tap Room Shelved

In Beer News by Ryan

Schlafly’s plans to open a brewpub in Chicago have been put on hold indefinitely. The reason: Illinois’ 30-thousand barrel production cap prohibits them from owning a brewpub in Illinois.

One of the more controversial aspects of Illinois’ craft brewers license is the provision that allows the owner of a brewery to also own & operate a brewpub. In order to do that the brewer must produce 30-thousand barrels of beer, or less, per year. In 2013 Schlafly produced about 56-thousand barrels of beer.

Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois President Bob Myers says the cap was initially put into place to keep mega-brewers, like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, from opening multiple brewpubs in Illinois and skirting the three-tier system.

Myers tells us a questionable rule change proposed by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, which would cap the amount of beer a brewpub could send to a distributor at a mere 50-thousand gallons, came about after Chief Legal Counsel Rick Haymaker began receiving inquiries from out-of-state brewers who wanted to open brewpubs in Illinois. Myers said Haymaker didn’t name any breweries but clearly Schlafly was one.

Schlafly CEO Dan Kopman, in an email to Guys Drinking Beer, says they had actually found a building to lease — and were getting the paperwork squared away — when the ILCC put a stop to things informing Kopman they couldn’t get a craft brewers license in the state.

Schlafly’s plans for a Chicago brewpub included a small brewhouse, pub and store. Kopman says they had no plans to self-distribute & would be buying beer from their St. Louis brewery, through an Illinois distributor, for sale in the brewpub.

“Right now our project is on hold and the building we were looking at will likely be leased to another tenant,” said Kopman.

Looking at the big picture of the production cap, it likely tanks any plans that Three Floyds may have still had in opening a Chicago brewpub. That breweries expansion will push them to producing upwards of 100-thousand barrels a year, well over the 30-thousand barrel cap. Crain’s reported earlier this year that Three Floyds sold a building in Humboldt Park that it purchased two years ago — around the time Nick Floyd told the Tribune he was looking at opening a brewpub in the city.

Up until today, the 30-thousand barrel production cap had been seen as a hindrance only to Illinois breweries but it clearly has an impact on regional brewers who want to expand in to the state.

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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.