How many times have you heard of a friend making a beer run to Kentucky? It’s often because beer drinkers can hop across the Ohio River to buy beers such as Samuel Adams Utopias and Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, which aren’t available in Ohio.
For Rep. Dan Ramos, a Democrat from Lorain, west of Cleveland, that story is too common, so he recently introduced House Bill 391. Also known as the “Ohio Beer Bill” passage would increase the maximum percentage of alcohol allowed in beer sold or produced in the state from 12 to 21 percent. That would bring it line with alcoholic beverages like wine and the low-proof liquors often sold at grocery stores.
Of the 12% current limit in Ohio, Nick Bowman, one of the co-owners of Dayton’s newest brewery, Warped Wing Brewing Co. says , “besides the fact that it holds some brewers back from creating some higher gravity beers, the 12% ceiling is irrelevant in today’s craft brewing environment. 14% is really the standard ABV ceiling that most craft breweries can hit (if they want to).
Bowman continues, “I think the biggest reason the change is needed is to prevent craft beer fans from traveling to other surrounding states like KY, IN and PA to seek out these higher gravity beers. Let’s face it….they probably aren’t spending the gas money just to buy one or two beers above 12% and are most likely buying other beers on these hauls therefore increasing the loss of tax revenue for the state of Ohio. Let’s keep it local!”
In 2012, 58 Ohio craft brewers produced an estimated 980,696 barrels of beer — fourth nationally and 7 percent of national production — bringing $1.2 billion to the state economy, said Mary Martineau, executive director of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
Aaron Spoores, Ohio Sales Manager for Cavalier Distributing says, “I think brewers are being held back.. If a beer happens to land over the 12% mark they either have to dump or be dishonest..neither of which they want to do. There are already a few breweries producing beers over the limit but not a ton. People will seek out what they want and what they want is being sold in all states surrounding us like IN, KY and PA, so they are driving and spending money in these states.
Spoores also shared, It still cost the brewers an enormous amount of money to produce a high abv beer. Money that will be passed on to the consumer. So it’s not likely that there will be a fleet of new high abv that is going to hit the shelves. Bottom line I guess its like telling a painter they can’t use a certain color paint..does the artist always want to use that color? No, but when the time is right and and they want to create something special.. That paint is there for them.”
If passed, sales of beer with an alcohol percentage between 12 and 21 would begin a year after the bill’s passage; brewing could begin immediately. Beer over 12 percent alcohol could not have caffeine or other stimulants in it.
Ohio House Bill 391 proposes to increase Ohio’s outdated 12% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) restriction on beer to 21%. We think all craft beer fans in Ohio should support this bill and it’s pretty easy to show your support in 3 quick and easy steps as outlined on OhioCraftBeer.com.
Once you’ve done that, let us know in the comments below and when it passes we’ll buy you a beer! Cheers!