Admittedly, we’re playing a bit of catchup on this, but late last week the governor’s of Illinois and Michigan put pen to paper enacting new laws benefiting the craft beer industry.
Here in Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill (HB 630) into law making it legal for homebrewers to take part in festivals and competitions. The new law also allows homebrew shops to hold classes and sample customers beer to offer tips.
The bill was a compromise effort negotiated by the Illinois Homebrew Alliance, which represented two-dozen homebrew groups in the state, and wholesaler-friendly groups the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois and the Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois. John Beystehner, with Brew and Grow, negotiated the homebrew shop portion.
Homebrewers had been taking part in festivals up until last year when someone brought it to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission’s attention that — as Illinois law read at the time — homebrew could only be consumed in the home it was brewed in. Silly? Yes, but that was the law on the books at the time so the ILCC enforced it.
The new law requires festivals to apply for a permit to serve homebrew. At least one upcoming festival is planning on doing just that. We’re told the Midwest Brewers Fest, which is August 24th in Plainfield, once again plans to feature Illinois homebrewers at its “Homebrew Pavilion.” However, an ILCC spokesperson says they have not received any applications.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill (SB 0027) into law allowing bars and restaurants to fill growlers. This was also happening previously, but it was illegal for bars and restaurants to do it.
We first told you about the efforts of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell), last October when he introduced the legislation. The bill stalled in 2012 but was re-introduced this year, was finally brought to the House and Senate for a vote, and was signed into law last week.
As someone who frequently travels to Michigan for work, and has for the last five years, it was a nice treat to be able to get a growler filled at Dusty’s Tap Room in Okemos, MI. The bar had to stop the practice last year after the state started cracking down on establishments who didn’t brew beer in-house but sold growlers. Only breweries and brewpubs could legally do so.
Apparently Dusty’s was taking advantage of a grey area in the law. They didn’t brew beer there but they do have a specialty beer from Short’s on tap, which is brewed specifically for the bar. The beer, Short’s “Dusty Roads Ale,” is a re-branded version of their Controversi-ALE — which used to be called Hangin’ Frank India Pale Ale.
The bar tells me they’ll begin filling growlers again soon but are still working out the specifics.
Back in Illinois, craft brewers are still waiting for Governor Quinn to sign a bill (HB 1573) into law doubling the barrel cap for craft brewers in the state. That bill was sent to the governor on June 19th. He has 60 days from that date to sign it or amend it — otherwise it automatically becomes law at the 60 day mark.