Illinois brewers push for direct-to-consumer shipping law

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 11:17 PM CDT
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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - In Illinois, if a consumer wants to enjoy a cold beer, traditionally they have two options; go to a bar or buy them at a store. Lawmakers in Springfield are trying to change that.

A bill introduced in February would allow breweries to ship their beers directly to customers’ homes. Wineries in the state have been able to do that since 2007.

President of Bent River Brewing Company Nick Bowes and other brewers are leading a new effort to pass the bill that is stuck at the committee level in the state senate.

“Right now, it’s not legal for brewers to ship, whether it be in state or to other states that allow that,” Bowes said. It’s an opportunity that people that want our product can purchase it directly from us, and then we can ship it to them with ... a maximum of 12 cases per year.”

Currently, 11 states and DC allow this kind of shipping. The proposal would open up breweries to ship directly to consumers in those states and within Illinois.

“Selling beer that people aren’t consuming on our property is always been a big part of our business. This would just be an extension of that,” Bowes said. “This is really about allowing us to sell our products outside of that area to people who don’t otherwise have that opportunity.”

Bowes doesn’t want to take business away from retailers or distributors.

Instead, he said breweries want something more valuable than revenue, exposure.

“Hopefully, if those people ever come up and visit the Quad Cities, they stopped by the brewpub, they have a burger, they have a beer, and they go yeah, we’d love ... ‘Uncommon Stout’ or whatever, while we’re around,” Bowes said.

After bouncing back from the pandemic, it’s the push brewers could use to continue recovery.

“Costs have continued to rise, whether it be ... the cost of the grain to make the beer, the burgers, the labor, everything,” Bowes said. “This just gives us one more outlet that we can increase some revenues.”

In Iowa, certain liquor licenses do allow for in-state home delivery of beer.

Another related bill in Illinois brewers are advocating for aims to tie up some loose ends. It allows breweries to establish rewards programs or ‘mug clubs’ and clears up rules around beer donations to charities.