The Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI) will be assisting craft brewers throughout Illinois by providing beer for the celebrations and festivals during American Craft Beer Week, May 13-19, 2013.
Most craft brewers are small in size and lack the resources to distribute their products over a large geographical area. ABDI’s distributors form partnerships with craft brewers to provide their craft beers to bars, restaurants, and packaged retailers throughout the state.
“ABDI has years of valuable experience and established relationships with retailers as it celebrates its 75th anniversary this year,” said ABDI’s President Bill Olson. “Distributors have always provided distribution for large and small brewers; now we are pleased to assist craft brewers in bringing their beer to retailers, restaurants, and bars.”
Based on 2011 legislation, Illinois defines Craft Brewers as brewers who manufacture up to 465,000 gallons (15,000 barrels) of beer per year. Craft Brewers may apply for a self-distribution exemption to allow the sale of 232,500 gallons (7,500 barrels) of the craft beer per year directly to retail licensees. A Craft Brewer may work with a distributor and also self-distribute. “This exemption to the law was created to provide a means for small start-up brewers to establish their beer brands with name recognition and a consumer following while maintaining the state-based regulatory system which creates a competitive, and orderly, marketplace for all brewers,” continued Olson.
The brewing industry has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. In late 1970s, there were only 89 brewers in the U.S. Today, there are over 2,400, many of which are small craft brewers. America’s 3,300 distributors have always been available to get the product to market. Several Illinois’ distributors were delivering brewery products before Prohibition and continue to offer distribution to all brewers today.
Ryan Hermes, editor of www.guysdrinkingbeer.com which is a website in its second year of coordinating a Chicago Craft Beer Week event showcasing downstate Illinois brewers, relies heavily on cooperation from local and downstate distributors. "Not only are Illinois distributors aware of the growth and potential of craft beer, whether it's brewed locally or halfway around the world, but many are expanding their craft beer divisions to help grow their current craft brands and attract new ones,” said Hermes. “With the right people in place, a distributor can provide an invaluable marketing arm to craft brewers large and small."
Distributors are licensed by the State of Illinois to import beer into Illinois and distribute beer to licensed retailers. “ABDI has always been its Members’ united voice with legislators and regulators to implement responsible alcohol laws while maintaining the three-tier regulatory system,” continued Olson. “ABDI Members employ over 3,300 people across the state, support numerous activities in their local communities, and sponsor responsibility programs to discourage underage drinking.”