Beer Battle Brewing in Springfield

A new bill introduced in the Illinois General Assembly would let craft brewers distribute their own products

By Sandra Torres
|  Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011  |  Updated 10:08 AM CDT
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A new measure in Springfield is brewing controversy.

It's a bill that would allow craft brewers in Illinois to distribute their own products, but only in limited quantities, according to the General Assembly Web site.

Anheuser-Busch, the corporation that recently purchased Goose Island, is a non-craft brewer but still wants to distribute its own brew. Distributors argue that would force some of the smaller craft beers out of the market.

Last year, Anheuser-Busch attempted to buy City Beverage, its primary distributor. When the Illinois Liquor Commission blocked the deal, Anheuser-Busch took the issue to court arguing that if smaller brewers can self-distribute, then they should be allowed to distribute as well, according to BizJournal.com.

A federal judge agreed with Anheuser-Busch, ruling that the state law was discriminatory.

The new bill introduced on Tuesday defines a craft brewer and the size of craft-brewing businesses that are eligible to self-distribution rights, according to the paper.

Anheuser-Busch released a statement saying the company has been "working with all parties toward a resolution that would address everyone's concerns, including those of small brewers."

Since the 1930s, the alcohol business in the U.S. has been divided into manufacturers, distributors and retailers, with each state regulating its own industry, according to the Chicago Tribune. But many states already allow brewers to distribute their own products.

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