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Danielle D’Alessandro, Executive Director at Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

Danielle D’Alessandro, Executive Director at Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

“The interview was done before Danielle D’Alessandro has announced she will be leaving the Guild for a new opportunity on September 30, 2021.”

How many members are in the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild?

203 Brewery Members
24 Allied Brewery Members (contract/large/in-planning)
105 Associate Members

How’s everything? How has the covid-19 affected the Illinois craft beer industry? 

Covid was devastating to the craft beer community in Illinois. Restaurants, bars, and breweries endured two on-premise shutdowns each lasting three months. The inability to serve customers indoors in taprooms and brewpubs across the state during the winter months proved very challenging for many small brewers. Most brewers furloughed or laid off staff and many had to navigate the limited supply and high price of cans and the need to package every drop of beer produced. Consumers showed hesitancy as well in immediately returning to on-premise dining once reopened.  Thankfully, federal assistance through the Payment Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) kept many small brewers afloat these past 15 months. Temporary provisions including home delivery and curbside pick-up ensured brewers could still sell their beer and keep their doors open. And while brewers are recovering from the past year, we are not entirely in the clear yet.

What are the challenges for the Illinois craft beer industry? 

Covid/Delta Variant: Could restrictions be reimposed or keep consumers at home?
Marketplace/Consumer Access: Restrictions on small brewers from being able to home deliver or ship beer direct to consumers hurts these small businesses while allowing it for retail giants like Amazon, Walmart, and others that already dominate the marketplace.
Regulations: as new ecommerce start-ups come online and retailers are given more opportunities to sell to consumers, burdensome regulations could keep small brewers from having similar options. Illinois’ franchise law also prevents small brewers from finding a good wholesale partner that fits their business by instead locking them into contracts with distributors that small brewers will likely never be able to financially exit.

What’s next for the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild? 

Events are BACK! Hopefully, we continue to see more people get vaccinated so we can return to the beer events everyone loves. We are currently planning for Beer Under Glass (BUG), a one-of-a-kind beer festival hosted at the Garfield Park Conservatory and the Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB), the premier barrel-aged beer competition and festival throughout the country. BUG is being held on August 27 with FoBAB to follow in November. More information can be found at illinoisbeer.org and at fobab.com.
ICBG just recently announced its plans to offer a Diversity Scholarship annually in partnership with the Siebel Institute to individuals interested in a career in the craft beer industry. Scholarships will be awarded to minorities, people of color, and women new to the industry and already employed, but looking to further their brewing knowledge. We are excited to begin the important and necessary work of being a more inclusive and diverse community.

 

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