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Craft Brewers Guild meets

Brewers from all over the state converged on Emancipation Brewing Company near Fairbury last week for a meeting of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild.

“We’ve got people here from the north side of Chicago, almost to Iowa, southern Illinois and everywhere in between” explained Emancipation owner Lincoln Slagel.

The group keeps brewers updated on laws dealing with restaurants, food and beverages.

“We have a lawyer that we all kind of pitch-in and pay for plus some lobbying efforts,” noted Slagel.

This was the first meeting for the group south of Interstate 80 in at least seven to eight years. Meetings are held four times a year for all of the members statewide, which include about 300 breweries. Around 125 of those breweries showed up at Emancipation.

“Today is a day of education, talking about legislation we are working on as well as networking for the craft beer community,” said Ray Stout, executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild.

In Springfield, the group is closely watching the elimination of the tipped wage credit. There have been 35 bills filed this legislative session that will impact the brewing community one way for another.

“Liquor law is complicated and these are small business owners that know how to make great beer but might not necessarily know how to navigate the challenging legal environment of alcohol,” adds Stout.

Stout reports about 40 brewers were lost over the past two years after the pandemic for various reasons but things look to have stabilized as breweries are again starting to open in the state.  

Everyone commented on how good the catered fried chicken lunch from Dave’s Supermarket tasted. In fact, they could not believe it was from the local grocery store. Stout and others were impressed with the scenery in rural Fairbury.

Emancipation Brewing Company is a family-friendly brewery serving locally made beer plus non-alcoholic offerings. They also feature occasional food trucks.

“A lot of our ingredients are local or from somewhere in the Midwest,” said Slagel. “Every part of it is grown by a farmer somewhere.”


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