Illinois craft brewers get creative to boost slumping sales

Brewers hope customers who can’t roam from brewery to brewery will participate in a virtual “Passport at Home” program.

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A glass of beer is seen through a “Passport at Home” frame.

More than 100 craft breweries in Illinois are taking part in a “Passport at Home” promotion.

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Ailing Illinois craft brewers are tweaking a summer promotion to conform to the new realities of the pandemic.

In a normal summer, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild issues passports for enthusiasts to get stamped at member breweries around the state. Get enough stamps, earn a reward.

This year, due to the coronavirus, “Passport at Home” encourages enthusiasts to ask for a “passport frame” — a little cardboard picture frame that looks like a passport — when picking up beer or having it delivered.

Snap a pic with purchased items in the frame and post it to social media using the hashtag #PassportAtHome to be entered into a weekly $25 gift card giveaway to a participating brewery.

ThePassportAt Home program kicks off Friday and runs through June 4.

More than 100 breweries are taking part in the program, most of them in the Chicago area.

Brewers could use the business.

“On average, brewers are down about 70% in terms of sales revenue,” Danielle D’Alessandro, executive director of the Guild, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday.

“Most have decided to remain open. We’ve seen two breweries in Illinois that have closed so far in the past month,” she said. One was downstate; the other was Argus Brewery in the South Side Pullman neighborhood.

“Brewers are continuing to innovate and get creative,” she said.

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