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Last night at my homebrew club meeting, we were notified that the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) shut down a homebrewing event in Springfield, IL. In addition, earlier this year the ILCC notified the Peoria Jaycees that homebrewed beer would not be allowed at the annual Peoria International Beer Festival this year (info found here).
What is behind the ILCC flexing their legal muscle? Many think that is has something to do with the increase in popularity of homebrewing and craft beer as a whole. Others think that the ILCC is shutting down homebrewing events because the homebrew is not taxed. Before getting into a huff, lets look at the law the ILCC is tasked with enforcing.
The Homebrewers Association website provides information on the homebrewing laws for each state in the USA.(that site can be found here). Being in Chicago, the homebrewing law/statute in Illinois is what applies to me and it reads as follows:
Illinois statute Chapter 235, Act 5, Article II, § 2-1 permits the making of wine, cider or other alcoholic liquor by a person from fruits, vegetables or grains, or the products thereof, by simple fermentation and without distillation, if it is made solely for the use of the maker, his family and his guests.
It goes onto say:
§ 2-1. No person shall manufacture, bottle, blend, sell, barter, transport, deliver, furnish or possess any alcoholic liquor for beverage purposes, except as specifically provided in this Act, provided, however, nothing herein contained shall prevent the possession and transportation of alcoholic liquor for the personal use of the possessor, his family and guests, nor prevent the making of wine, cider or other ALCOHOLIC LIQUOR by a person from fruits, vegetables or grains, or the products thereof, by simple fermentation and without distillation, if it is made solely for the use of the maker, his family and his guests.
The good folks over at the Libation Law Blog go into great detail about what the Illinois law states as it applies to homebrewing. After reading their post, it seems that the Illinois homebrewing laws (as they are currently written) foster conflict with the federal law (IL law - 'can't prevent the possession and transportation of alcoholic liquor for the personal use of the possessor'. Fed law - homebrewed beer may be 'removed from the premises where made for personal or family use including use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions such as homemaker's contests, tastings or judging'), and are open to interpretation.
I know I still have plenty to learn about the Illinois homebrewing laws, and how they apply to me and homebrewing club I am a part of, but I hope Illinois homebrewers follow the lead of our Wisconsin homebrewing bretheren and work with our state representatives to change the law so that homebrewing competitions and the inclusion of homebrew at beer festivals will be legal.