Illinois Craft Brewers Guild Spotlight

Published: March 7, 2023
Photography courtesy of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

There are many reasons why you should join your local brewers guild. So to help you see some of these advantages in action, we’ve been spotlighting guilds from around the country.

Everywhere from the Ohio Craft Brewers Association in the Midwest to the Texas Craft Brewers Guild in the South. And all those in between.

This week we’re discovering how the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild (ICBG) fosters local events, fights for better industry laws, and finds new ways to promote and support the fine breweries of the Land of Lincoln.

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What Is the Mission of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild?

A flight of craft beers from the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

Photography courtesy of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

Founded in 1997, the ICBG is “the nonprofit trade organization dedicated to supporting the development and expansion of the craft beer industry in Illinois,” according to the ICBG website.

With that in mind, the ICBG approaches its mission from three different pillars: legislative and regulatory advocacy, education, and promotion.

Legislative + Regulatory Advocacy

Under this pillar the ICBG acts as the “voice of Illinois brewers,” advocating for “legislation that enables growth and expansion while working to ease unnecessary regulatory restrictions on the state’s craft breweries,” according to the guild’s website.


Through a series of conferences, such as its annual Illinois Craft Brewers Convention and Tradeshow, which took place in Bloomington, IL, from Mar. 6 to Mar. 7, 2023, the ICBG helps its members further their professional development in the industry. Whether through technical seminars or in-depth conversations, the ICBG takes its education component very seriously.


To bolster its breweries’ consumer reach, the ICBG hosts a whole series of events from incredible one-night festivals like the Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers (FOBAB) to an entire seven-day promotion like Illinois Craft Beer Week.

The goal with each of these events is to “promote member breweries and their craft beer in thoughtful, creative ways to maintain connection with loyal fans while appealing to new craft beer drinkers,” according to the guild’s website.

All these efforts have helped Illinois rank seventh in terms of economic impact, generating $2.984 million in revenue in the state in 2021, according to the Brewers Association.

All told, nearly 300 breweries make up the entire state guild.

Ones like:

  • Art History Brewing
  • Corridor Brewery & Provisions
  • DESTIHL Brewery
  • Dovetail Brewery
  • DryHop Brewers
  • Duneyrr Artisan Fermenta Project
  • Forbidden Root
  • Half Acre Beer Company
  • Hop Butcher for the World
  • Maplewood Brewery & Distillery
  • Marz Community Brewing Co.
  • Moody Tongue Brewing Company
  • Off Color Brewing
  • Phase Three Brewing Company
  • Pipeworks Brewing Co.
  • Revolution Brewing
  • Scratch Brewing Company
  • Solemn Oath Brewery
  • The Hopewell Brewing Company

.. and so many more.

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What Are the Goals of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild in 2023?

A promotional ad for SB 2193, a bill to legalize direct-to-consumer beer shipping and delivery

Photography courtesy of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild isn’t wasting any time this year. On February 10, 2023, the ICBG filed a bill that would legalize direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping for the state’s craft breweries.

A huge step in the economic success of craft breweries moving forward, DTC shipping became a substantial pillar for many small beverage businesses during the pandemic.

Unfortunately in Illinois, breweries are not currently allowed to ship the beer they make to consumers thanks to an outdated but current law on self-distribution.

An amendment to the 1934 Liquor Control Act, SB2193 would allow breweries with a certain license to ship their goods to folks who are over twenty-one years of age.

In the guild’s most recent version of its magazine Illinois Brewing, they liken the legalization of DTC shipping to what those same self-distribution laws did for the industry back in 2011.

At the time, self-distribution laws that let breweries sell to retailers, bars, and restaurants on their own, without a third party, greatly benefitted beverage businesses. Mostly because the margins in the brewing industry are so slim that by removing a third party that takes a cut of each sale, smaller breweries could thrive.

But today, the law actually hinders breweries in Illinois, especially those with a small- to no-distribution footprint because they are so stringent, setting limitations on the types of breweries that can self-distribute along with the actual amount breweries are allowed to self-distribute before they have to bring in a distributor.

“The fact that Illinois laws force some craft breweries to contract with third-party distribution is antiquated and unnecessary,” writes Illinois Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Ray Stout in the guild’s Illinois Brewing article. “It creates an intentional power imbalance between local breweries and consolidated distribution corporations through the enforcement of what are called ‘franchise laws.’”

Enacted under the Beer Industry Fair Dealing Act, franchise laws basically protect Illinois distributors, meaning once a brewery is locked into a distribution contract they’re notoriously impossible to break.

For over a decade it has been that way or the highway, so to speak.

Until now.

With SB2193 breweries can once again take a bit of their own selling power back into their hands, allowed to distribute up to twelve cases of beer per year through DTC shipping to anyone over twenty years old.

The benefits could be numerous.

In a Facebook post the ICBG explained that “data demonstrates that direct-to-consumer shipping helps build brand awareness and satisfy demand for niche products.”

According to Stout, breweries have reported business is back to about seventy percent of what it was before the pandemic, meaning people are still consuming a good amount of beer at home.

Illinois breweries need to be able to meet their customers where they are most comfortable.

Something wineries in Illinois have actually been able to legally leverage for more than fifteen years.

So why not breweries?

The ICBG will be hoping this changes as the Illinois State Senate considers this new bill.

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What Are the Benefits for Illinois Craft Brewers Guild Members?

A promotional graphic and photo for the ICBG Brewmaster Series highlighting barrel aged beer

Photography courtesy of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

Overall, the ICBG gives breweries in Illinois a vociferous voice whether that’s through state legislation and regulatory advocacy, brewery-benefitting events, or yearly conferences and technical seminars.

And that doesn’t even cover all of the nitty-gritty details that members can access.

Membership in the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild includes all the following benefits:

  • Direct access to the state’s growing craft brewing community
  • Quarterly meetings, including technical seminars, legislative and legal updates, and networking
  • Monthly industry-specific educational opportunities (i.e., technical webinars)
  • Members-only listserv gives brewers direct access to one another for questions, resources, and support
  • Option to participate in annual ICBG-sponsored events, including Illinois Craft Beer Week, Beer Under Glass, ICBG Golf Outing, Chicago Friday Night Flights (Chicago only), and more (including sponsorship opportunities)
  • Access to annual Illinois Craft Brewers Conference, featuring two days of technical education, networking, and sponsorship opportunities
  • Placement on Illinois Brew Map and logo featured at
  • An ICBG-branded tin tacker and window cling to showcase your membership in your brewery or taproom
  • Promotional support provided by the Guild’s PR team through events, social media, traditional media, fundraisers, and other brewery-specific priorities
  • Brewery listing in Illinois Brewing magazine, a quarterly print and digital publication reaching over 10,000 Illinois beer drinkers, plus potential for editorial features
  • Insight from industry professionals on rules, regulations, and other updates at the state and Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) level
  • Input in building the Guild’s legislative agenda at the local, state, and national levels
  • A voice in electing ICBG leadership via board elections; leadership opportunities for those interested in joining an ICBG committee or running for the Board of Directors (regular members only)
  • Access to ICBG’s legal staff for industry-specific questions; one free legal consultation
  • Free shipping to Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup; opportunity to have product featured and poured at the ICBG pavilion at GABF (pending its return)
  • Monthly updates from the Executive Director with important ICBG and industry updates, event reminders, educational opportunities, and offers from associate members

Beyond all these benefits, here are the big events the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild has planned this year.

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The Four Illinois Craft Brewers Guild Events You Can’t Miss This Year

A bokeh light photo of a hand holding a Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers commemorative glass

Photography courtesy of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild has a whole slate of amazing events planned for 2023.

2023 Illinois Craft Brewers Convention

This annual statewide conference provides its members an opportunity to attend important technical and educational seminars, engage in panel discussions, and network with other breweries, industry manufacturers, and trade organizations.

Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers

Last year, this groundbreaking festival celebrated its twentieth anniversary. The country’s largest and most-revered barrel-aged beer festival, FOBAB has been pushing the vanguard of BA beer in a state where Goose Island Brewmaster Greg Hall essentially invented barrel aging when he introduced Bourbon County Brand Stout as Goose Island’s one thousandth batch of beer in 1992.

Up close photo of a commemorative glass from the Friday Night Flights, an Illinois Craft Brewer's Guild event

Photography courtesy of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

Friday Night Flights

Created in partnership with Choose Chicago, last year Friday Night Flights included three different tasting events in three different unique Chicago neighborhoods. Beer tastings combined with local food vendors and live DJs for a cool spin on a Friday night out.

Illinois Craft Beer Week

A week of events that celebrates breweries all across Illinois from way down south to up north in Chicago, Illinois Craft Beer Week has one mission: to honor everyone who brews Illinois beer, drinks Illinois beer, and supports Illinois beer.

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How Can I Join the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild?

Promotional photo and graphic to join the Illinois Craft Brewer's Guild

Photography courtesy of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

If you’re a brewery or brewery-in-planning in Illinois interested in joining the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, it’s pretty easy.

Just visit here to learn more and fill out the sign-up form.


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Hedashot for Grace Weitz, Managing Editor for Hop Culture and Untappd

About The Author

Grace Lee-Weitz

Grace is the Managing Editor for Hop Culture and Untappd. She also organizes and produces the largest weeklong women in craft beer festival in the country, Beers With(out) Beards and the first-ever festival celebrating the colorful, vibrant voices in the queer community in craft beer, Queer Beer.

An avid craft beer nerd Grace always found a way to work with beer. After graduating with a journalism degree from Northwestern University, she attended culinary school before working in restaurant management. She moonlighted as a brand ambassador at 3 Sheeps Brewing Co on the weekends before moving into the beer industry full-time as an account coordinator at 5 Rabbit Cerveceria.

Grace holds her Masters degree in the Food Studies program at NYU.

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