Liquor commission grants brew license


The Illinois Liquor Control Commission recently voted 5-2 in favor of granting brew pub and wine-making licenses for the Eris Brewery and Ciderhouse, which will open in the former Masonic temple at 4240 W. Irving Park Road.

The commission approved the licenses despite concerns expressed by its attorney. At issue is whether licenses for the manufacture and sale of two types of alcohol can be granted for the same location.

The commission’s legal counsel is understandably cautious when making recommendations, and one of the roles of the commission is to make a determination when the law may not be clear on a matter, commission spokeswoman Susan Hofer said.

While state law does not specify whether both wine and beer can be made and sold at the same establishment, the law does not prohibit it, Hofer said. Eris is third business in Illinois to be granted brew pub and wine-making licenses, she said.

The wine-making license allows fermenting fruit for cider, and the brew pub license allows fermenting grain for beer. Each license also allows an establishment also to sell alcohol which is not made on the premises, Hofer said.

Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois president Bob Myers said that the group is reviewing the commission’s decision. He said that while the organization does not oppose the concept of wine and beer being made at the same location, it wants to make sure the law is followed and that it would support possible changes to the law to avoid future confusion.

"We just want to make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed," Myers said.

According to the organization, a wine maker cannot also hold a license to make craft beer, and without exceptions being spelled out in the law, the privilege of having both licenses does not exist.

The restaurant is not expected to open for at least a year due to the renovations which are required for the 103-year-old building. The project also requires a zoning change and for the city to issue a liquor license.

Last year Alderman John Arena (45th) worked with the Illinois General Assembly to amend the Illinois Liquor Control Act of 1934 so that liquor licenses could be issued for Eris. State law prohibits the issuance of a new liquor license to businesses located within 100 feet of a church, and the amendment waives that restriction for the Eris location.

Harvest Christian Center Church, 4020 N. Tripp Ave., is next to the former Masonic temple, which currently is occupied by Korean Bethel Presbyterian Church.