Evanston aldermen review liquor code on beer “sampler” packs

Marshall Cohen

The city is redrafting a proposed change to the liquor code over the sale of beer “sampler” packages.

Evanston aldermen agreed Monday to take a second look at the proposal after major beer retailers raised concerns about its implementation.

The city’s Liquor Control Review Board recommended in November to ban Evanston stores from bundling different brands of bottled beer into “sampler” packages for resale – even though at least two local stores currently do that.

Ald. Jane Grover (7th) told The Daily on Thursday there had been “a misunderstanding.”

“I’m not sure the liquor commission understood that we do have retailers who are repacking beers into six-pack samplers,” Grover said.

Other aldermen, including Ald. Don Wilson (4th), agreed the ordinance was a non-issue.

“I don’t see any reason why a store couldn’t put together, for example, a six-pack of several different beers,” Wilson said.

One of the local retailers that sell those beer samplers is World Market, 1725 Maple Ave. Jeff Hill, district manager of World Market stores, attended the Monday night council meeting to raise concerns about the proposal.

Hill could not be reached for comment Thursday but said at the meeting the proposed changes would make it illegal for World Market to continue selling “sampler” packs containing craft beers from different suppliers.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl also noted she received a complaint in the same fashion from the management of Whole Foods Market, 1111 Chicago Ave.

A Whole Foods manager declined to comment Thursday.

Evanston Now reported earlier this week that Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) seemed to support the liquor board’s recommendation. Grover and Wilson both indicated they wanted to see the proposed ordinance redrafted.

“I’m married to a guy who enjoys craft beers, and I think I bought one of those samplers for him once from World Market,” Grover said.

“If we don’t modify (the ordinance), it would prevent businesses from repackaging, and the down side to that is it might be difficult for microbreweries to sell their product or to get their product out there to stores,” Wilson said.

Aldermen will vote on the redrafted ordinance Jan. 23.

Alexandria Johnson contributed reporting.

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