Homebrew clubs help draft pro-sampling law
By Mike Danahey email@example.com October 17, 2012 8:42PM
Bill Gross, of St. Charles, samples a English Strong Ale during a Silverado Homebrew Club meet-up at Tap House Grill in St. Charles, Ill., on Thursday, June 21, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:06PM
Illinois homebrew clubs have been working with Elgin state Rep. Keith Farnham’s office in readying proposed legislation to let such groups offer free samples of their wares at public gatherings.
According to Elgin resident Richard Placko, who is a member of the St. Charles-based Silverado Homebrewing Club, over the last few weeks, homebrew club members across the state, including some who are attorneys, have been coordinating feedback to Farnham’s office through a club located in Plainfield called PALE (Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts).
PALE had been part of Plainfield’s first Midwest Brewers Fest in 20011 but was not allowed to offer homemade beer at the second one this past August. Silverado had offered samples at the Wheaton Ale Fest and the Elgin Parks and Recreation Department scholarship fundraiser Beer and BBQ @ Bowes in 2011, but also had to refrain from doing so this year, in large part because the state had started to crack down on such offerings in the spring.
In April, Peoria International Beer Festival organizers were told by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission that since clubs’ brewing equipment is not regulated and their beer is not taxed, they could not share such brews at the festival. A dozen brew clubs had been a feature at the Peoria International Beer Festival over the last 19 years. The event is a fundraiser for local Jaycees and charities.
After hearing about what happened to Silverado, Farnham offered to work on a preliminary draft of the legislation, which is based on a similar law in Wisconsin. Farnham hopes to introduce the bill next legislative session.
Gary Glass, director of the Colorado-based American Homebrewers Association, also has been working with homebrewing groups in Illinois on the wording of the proposed legislation. Glass said he heard from 17 clubs in the state that have had input into the document.
Glass said the association has worked with homebrew advocates in other states, including Oregon and Wisconsin, where laws were changed so sampling now is allowed. Groups in Missouri and Kansas are working on proposed legislation similar to what’s happening in Illinois. The association also helped homebrewers in Oklahoma and Utah be able to make their own beer for their own consumption.
Glass noted it is very early in the process in Illinois but feels the measure has a good chance of passing.
“It seems pretty non-controversial. Who could be against this?” he said.
As for health concerns some might have about amateurs giving out homemade samples, beer has no pathogens, so it would be potentially safer than eating a cake offered at a church bake sale, Glass said.
“The worst that could happen is the beer tastes bad,” he said. “Of course, you could drink too much, but you could eat too much cake, too.”