Senator wants to give small breweries a tax break - FOX 32 News Chicago

Senator wants to give small breweries a tax break

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - There may now be more breweries in the Chicago area than at any time since alcohol was outlawed in the 1920s. The breweries employ nearly 3,000 people. Senator Mark Kirk wants the federal government to give them a tax break to encourage more hiring.

Shortly after Gabriel Magliaro opened his Half Acre brewery on Lincoln Avenue in 2008, the economy fell into a terrifying tailspin. Still, Half Acre's small-batch beers, such as Daisy Cutter, grew so popular that Magliaro could not meet the demand. He now plans to open a second brewery in October.

"In areas where we're already selling beer, we've been on an allocation basis for so long, we haven't really opened up accounts for two years," Magliaro said.

Other craft beer makers in Chicago, including Revolution Brewing, tell similar success stories.

A trade group reports Illinois is now home to 85 breweries, employing nearly 3,000 workers. Another 40 breweries have applied for licenses and may open in the next 12 months.

With such offbeat ingredients as dried hyacinth flowers, Revolution's Rosa offers drinkers something dramatically different.

"It's something you can't get when you go the store and just pick up a six pack," craft beer drinker Donald Radlund said.

Hoping to encourage further expansion and further hiring, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk endorsed a proposal Wednesday to cut the federal excise tax on small breweries. It could save Half Acre $50,000 a year or more - money the owner said he'd spend on new equipment and hiring more workers.

Workers say people now talk about beer the way they used to talk about wine.

"There really is that much variation in the craft beer industry, I think," Jack Fleming said.


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