Beer Legislation Answers From the Daniel Biss Campaign

In Beer Politics by Karl

Daniel Biss is a candidate running for Illinois Governor. The following are the responses from his team regarding beer and alcohol legislation in Illinois, presented verbatim. 

You can view the responses we’ve collected from all gubernatorial candidates here.

A main topic of conversation in the beer world last year has been about whether or not bars and restaurants should have the freedom to fill growlers and crowlers (bottles and cans filled from draft lines for takeaway consumption). Where do you stand on this subject? Should restaurants and bars be allowed to do so? Or should that right remain solely with breweries and their taprooms?

There are many considerations at play here. I am supportive of measures that might allow craft breweries an opportunity to reach new consumers and think we need to do more to foster an appreciation for homegrown Illinois products like craft beers. However, there are a lot of details that would need to be worked out to ensure that craft breweries are protected. For example, we need to make sure that key protections related to quality control and safety are in place. We also need to analyze how expansion to restaurants and bars would impact smaller brewers. This is an issue that requires more study and analysis.

Have you ever had a growler filled at a brewery? If so, where and what was it?

I had two growlers filled at Goose Island Brewery in October 2004 before departing for Wisconsin for a final week’s work on the John Kerry Presidential campaign. The election did not turn out as planned and personally speaking I’ve avoided growlers ever since because of the painful association, but I cheerfully support others who make different life choices.

When you take office, it will have been nearly four years since the governor signed the Craft Brewers License into law. At the time, it was predicted that the state would see massive small business growth – in the form of new breweries – at least partly as a result of this bill. Clearly, that has come true by leaps and bounds across the entire state. But with that growth has come many more questions, including whether a brewer can own a distributor, whether the three-tier system is an outdated structure and more. What is your position on craft brewers self-distributing and at what point should they no longer be considered “craft” and be held to the same rules as the larger brewing companies?

I am proud to have voted for House Bill 3237 and am excited that it has spurred such positive economic development. As far as the three-tier system goes, we need to make sure that it serves its intended purposes: consumer protection and fostering competition. When it is used to squelch competition and stymie small business, the beer-drinking public suffers. So, in evaluating the three-tier system and issues like self-distribution, I would be guided by these principles. Ultimately, I want craft brewers to be able to extend their offerings across the broadest geographic region possible. Beer drinker demand and not artificial restraints should determine the future of the craft beer industry.

Do you believe the three-tier system is antiquated or is it needed to ensure safety among consumers and competition among manufacturers?

The three-tier system continues to play an important role in the beer industry, including for craft breweries. Craft brewers, particularly start-ups,usually have to rely on self-distribution to build their brand and consumer base. In time, they may transition to a distributor to more effectively share their product. Independent distributors can play an important role here. But, we need to make sure that the three-tier system is not bogged down with antiquated rules. The three-tier system can work, but only if it is driven by competition and consumer choice.

Do you agree with Governor Rauner’s signing of legislation reinstituting the Happy Hour in Illinois?

I voted Yes on Senate Bill 398 when it was before the legislature in 2015.

As state and local governments look to revenue sources to balance their budgets, we often hear about the alcohol tax as an option. Illinois already has among the highest alcohol taxes in the Midwest. Our tax on beer is double what it is in Indiana and nearly quadruple what it is in Wisconsin. Is an even higher tax on beer, wine or spirits an option if you are governor?

Illinois has a broken revenue system. For too long, the corporate special interests and political insiders have set up a system that benefits a small group of people at the expense of the best interests of everyday people in Illinois. We need to change that. As Governor, we are going to finally make the hard choices that will fix our revenue system. We are going to look at what benefits the middle-class and everyday Illinoisans – not what helps the billionaires and corporate special interests.

Finally, What is your favorite beer, and what is your favorite beer not manufactured in Illinois?

I love porters from Evanston’s Temperance Brewing Company. My favorite beer not manufactured in Illinois is my uncle’s homebrew made on the coast of Maine.

You can learn more about the Biss campaign here

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About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Draft Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, is now available via Amazon and other booksellers. If you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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