GDB’s 2013 Chicago Craft Beer Awards

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, age-gated children born in 1991 and beyond, to the third (now annual, we suppose) edition of the Chicago Craft Beer Awards.

You will recall that all of this started in 2011 with this Chitown On Tap piece, and the baton was passed to us last year where we came up with this.

This year, we’ve added some categories, removed some others, had a little fun with a few, and basically just thought “who deserves to be given an attaboy this year” until we came up with this. Much like we said last year, allow us to present you these Chicago Craft Beer “Awards” as our way to continue the appreciation and acknowledgement of the craftsmen and women who have made 2013 the best year in Chicago beer ever.

As always, for what we get right, thank them, for what we get wrong, blame us – and tell us who you think deserves respect and appreciation in ways we may have forgotten. It’s been a busy, busy year — the busiest damn year in Chicago beer ever, we merit. And it’s been a lot of fun keeping up with it.
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Homebrew Legislation Passes IL Senate, Awaits Gov’s Signature

image courtesy Illinois Homebrew Alliance & Brew and Grow

image courtesy Illinois Homebrew Alliance & Brew and Grow

Legislation impacting homebrewers and homebrew shops in Illinois has cleared the Illinois Senate on a unanimous, 54-0 vote. The bill passed the House, also unanimously, last month.

The bill (HB 630) defines homebrewed beer, would allow homebrew to be consumed outside of the home it was brewed in and would also allow homebrewers to take part in contests and be included in festivals.

The legislation was introduced in response to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission’s crackdown on homebrewers taking part in beer festivals. The Commission gave homebrewed beer the boot from a Peoria beer festival last year saying current law only allows beer brewed at home to be consumed in the home.

The legislation also allows homebrew shops to hold classes and sample beer brewed by customers to help them tweak recipes and offer tips.

The homebrew shop portion of the legislation was hashed out by Brew and Grow’s John Beystehner while the Illinois Homebrew Alliance’s Peter J. Rzeminski II, of the PALE Homebrew Club, led the negotiations on the homebrewer portion. Both worked in conjunction with the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois to iron out any differences before the legislation was drafted.

Rzeminski II, in an emailed response to Guys Drinking Beer, says they are ecstatic the legislation has cleared both the House and Senate. “The IHA wants to thank all the members of the General Assembly for helping expand the rights of Illinois Homebrewers,” said Rzeminski II.

The legislation now awaits Governor Pat Quinn’s signature.

Illinois Homebrewing Legislation Amended To Include Homebrew Shops, Passes IL House ***UPDATED***


4/17 – The bill passed the Illinois House unanimously, 118-0, and now heads to the Illinois Senate.

Here is the roll call vote on HB 630.

The Illinois Homebrew Alliance says, in a statement emailed to GuysDrinkingBeer, the bills passage is a big first step for homebrewers in the state.

“The IHA is extremely happy that our bill has passed the Illinois House! We want to thank each and every person that took the time to call their Representative; you all helped make this possible. We look forward to the upcoming vote in the Senate and the Governor’s signature!”

The IHA is hopeful the bill can pass the Senate and is signed into law on or before the American Homebrew Association’s Big Brew, on May 4th, which celebrates National Homebrew Day.

4/16 – The bill cleared the House Executive Committee Monday evening on a 11-0 vote and is poised for a vote on the House Floor as early as Wednesday.


Once separate pieces of legislation addressing homebrewing and homebrew shops in Illinois, the two bills have become one under a proposed amendment to House Bill 630.

The bills were initially introduced by State Representative’s Keith Farnham (D-Elgin) and Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), respectively. Tryon has now signed on as a co-sponsor to Farnham’s bill.

The legislation, as amended, defines homebrewed beer, would allow homebrew to be consumed outside of the home it was brewed in and would also allow homebrewers to take part in contests and be included in festivals.

“‘Homemade brewed beverage’ means beer or any other beverage obtained by the alcoholic fermentation of an infusion or concoction of grains, sugars, or both in water and includes, but is not limited to, beer, mead, and cider made by a person 21 years of age or older, through his or her own efforts, fermented at his or her place of residence, fermented at another place of residence of a homemade brewed beverage brewer, or fermented at a premises of a commercial enterprise that is engaged primarily in selling supplies and equipment for use by home brewers and not for a commercial purpose but for consumption by that person or his or her family, neighbors, guests, and friends or for use at an exhibition, demonstration, judging, tasting, or sampling with sampling sizes as authorized by Section 6-31 of this Act or as part of a contest or competition authorized by Section 6-36 of this Act.”

John Beystehner, with Brew and Grow, tells GuysDrinkingBeer the homebrew shop portion of the legislation was drafted to ensure shops like his could help fledgling homebrewers.

“Homebrewing can be an intimidating hobby when first getting into it and by allowing homebrew supply stores to offer classes and samples within their stores we can show customers how easy homebrewing can be and the quality of beer that can be produce[d] at home,” said Beystehner.

The homebrew shop legislation was hashed out by Beystehner while the Illinois Homebrew Alliance led the charge on the homebrewer bill. Both groups worked in conjunction with the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois to iron out any differences before the legislation was drafted.

The bill is tentatively scheduled before the House Executive Committee this evening.

Homebrewing Legislation Headed to the Illinois State House

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.