Ashok Selvam | Eater Chicago | August 21, 2018
The surge in brewery taproom openings in Chicago may delight typical beer drinkers, but they pose a threat to some bars which are seeing fewer customers. Several popular Chicago craft beer owners are voicing concerns over a law passed last week that they say will pose bigger challenges to their businesses. Last week, Governor Bruce Rauner lifted restrictions that prevented larger breweries from serving beer and cider from other companies at their facilities. Now companies like Half Acre Beer Company and Revolution Brewing will be able to pour beers from other brewers if they want.
While Springfield lauded the law for providing consumers with more choices, bar owners said the law creates an uneven playing field. The law further dissolves the line between taproom and bar by eliminating one of a bar’s competitive advantages. A bar still can sell wine and spirits, unlike a taproom.
Michael Roper, owner of Hopleaf — one of the city’s best craft beer bars — told Brewbound that taprooms are already taking customers away from his Andersonville icon. They’ve reportedly hurt other craft beer bars, too. The bigger companies, like Constellation Brands-owned Ballast Point Brewing (which earlier this year opened its first Chicago location), have a “have a leg up on traditional taverns and bars.” Roper said they can’t compete against the big guys who can lobby lawmakers. These brewers already enjoy high-profit margins from selling their own beers at their taprooms.