How to Start a Microbrewery in Illinois

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Illinois is home to 45 microbreweries as of 2014.
Illinois is home to 45 microbreweries as of 2014. (Image: jostrand/iStock/Getty Images)

Thanks to the increased popularity of craft beers, microbreweries are becoming a common site in many towns and cities. According to the United States Brewers Association, a microbrewery produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer in a year with 75 percent of its beer sold off-site through wholesalers and retailers. Some microbreweries also sell through carry-out orders and on-site tap rooms and restaurants. In Illinois, starting a microbrewery requires obtaining one of two licenses from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

Brew Pub Specialty Retail License

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission defines a brew pub as a manufacturer that produces beer on a designated premise and can sell to distributors. The brew pub can also store beer on site and sell it at retail on site, up to 50,000 gallons per year. The application for a brew pub license is located on the ILCC website. As of publication, you must submit the application on site along with the $1,050 license fee. You must also include a copy of the brewer’s notice from the federal Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a tax bond, a photocopy of your local liquor license and a copy of your TTB Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval. After completing the entire application, mail it to the ILCC via the address provided on the website.

Craft Brewer License

If you want to operate your microbrewery as a craft brewery, you can apply for the Illinois craft brewer license. A craft brewer can manufacture up to 930,000 gallons a year and sell to distributors and retailers. Along with the application and $25 license fee, you must turn in a copy of your current Illinois brewer’s liquor license, copies of all federal label approvals, a tax bond and a copy of the federal brewer’s notice from the TTB.

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