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Illinois Homebrew Bill Drafted To Loosen Restrictions On Independent Beer Production

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Illinois has uniquely strict laws concerning home-brewing beer and other alcoholic beverages. As the trend has taken off in recent years, brewing enthusiasts are pressuring legislators to loosen the state's regulatory grip.

Current Illinois statute allows privately-brewed beer, wine, cider or spirits to be consumed only by "the maker, his family and his guests," according to the American Homebrewers Association.

This has presented problems for small-batch brewers that are more than hobbyists, but still fall within the homebrew limitations. The statute not only forbids them from distributing or selling their products: they can't even provide them free for tastings and at events or in competitions.

Even bottling and transporting home-produced alcohol with any intention other than sharing with "the maker, his family and his guests" constitutes a violation, according to the law as it currently stands.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Illinois Liquor Commission has been cracking down on homebrewers offering samples at public festivities this year. After fielding concerns that an area homebrew club was concerned that their second annual beer tasting fundraiser would be at risk, State Rep. Keith Farnham (D-Elgin) debuted a preliminary draft of a bill this week that would amend the law.

Farnham's proposal is reportedly modeled after similar legislation in Wisconsin, which permits home-brewed beers to be distributed "for purposes of exhibition, demonstration, judging, tasting, or sampling."

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