Ohio Beer Is Getting Even Bigger

Here’s the scenario. You drive over from Indiana to visit relatives in Ohio for Thanksgiving. You listen to Alice’s Restaurant, you watch football, you gorge yourself with a huge Thanksgiving dinner and then you get stir crazy listening to your mother-in-law carry on about her sore feet and her rotten neighbors.

You have to get out of the house, first chance. Then you remember that Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout comes out first thing tomorrow morning.

Alarm set.

At 7:00 AM, you hustle out of the warm house into the flurry morning, hoping the line at the nearest  drive-through-beer-warehouse isn’t too long, and you pull in. No one’s there…Yes! And then, wah, wah…it dawns on you. They don’t sell Bourbon County Stout in Ohio.

Shit. That’s because Ohio doesn’t sell beer above 12% ABV. Or didn’t! That’s because beer-friendly Governor John Kasich just signed in the law that will allow Ohio to become even bigger than it already is!

I’m willing to bet that a story like this has happened to craft beer fans or similarly, some have attempted to buy beer on Sunday in Indiana. Which you can’t. Either way, it just doesn’t make any damn sense. Why can’t beer laws be similar from state to state?

Ohio was basically the donut hole of its surrounding neighbors by being only one of two states (also West Virginia) with an ABV cap on beer-12% that is. But, for several years now, Ohio representatives have proposed raising the ABV limit from 12% to 18%, and then 21%, but new legislation has proposed the removal of the restriction altogether. The bill, approved just a couple weeks by the Ohio statehouse was something to be signed into law by the governor.

Cap Limits and Alcohol Volume Discrimination

Ohio actually raised its ABV limit from 6% to 12% in 2002 but arguments for having a 12% cap persisted. Many of the remaining antiquated laws were birthed during Prohibition’s scare tactics, with the thought that lenient beer laws would cause drunk and disorderliness. And in this day, proponents argue that underage drinking and drunk driving cases would increase but data from other states have shown that this is not the case.

An ABV limit in Ohio caused beer fans seeking something stronger to cross state lines to make their purchases, robbing Ohio of tax revenue. It also negatively affected those small businesses in its ability to stay afloat, by hindering creativity and demand.

Because of the cap limit a new term was coined (like, just now) called Alcohol Volume Discrimination (AVD), which pointed out the fact that Ohio drinkers, and others, had been missing out on otherwise beer-worldly experiences.

Distribution will flourish now that the ban has been removed for smaller and larger breweries alike, and the Ohio beer world will reach new heights. Though, it may be hard to quantify since production in the state will continue to rise in double-digits.

2015 Production in Barrels: (Brewers Association statistics)

Pennsylvania            4,059,330

Ohio                             1,385,100

Michigan                    769.397

Indiana                        182,978

Kentucky                    87,156

West Virginia           14,161

Because of the cap limit a new term was coined (like, just now) called Alcohol Volume Discrimination (AVD), which pointed out the fact that Ohio drinkers, and others, had been missing out on otherwise beer-worldly experiences. Now lifted, new day-long celebrations will take place in the Buckeye state that will be similar to the Goose Island Black Friday BCS release or Three Floyds Dark Lord Day.

Worries about the ill effects of bigger beers have proved to be unfounded since higher ABV beers cost more, helping to keep alcohol abuse in check. See, craft beer fans know this; it’s not about pounding beer and getting drunk, it’s about enjoying the experience responsibly.

And you can be as sure as football in the fall, that breweries like Stone and Dogfish Head and, oh wait a minute, BrewDog(!), will be getting their larger beers out in front of Ohio drinkers very quickly.

Meanwhile, brewing higher alcohol concoctions allows breweries to enter into another world of artistic creation, the state reaps a fiscal benefit of more tax revenue and beer fans get to raise their glasses to fun, new and unique beers.

Don’t you know, Ohio brewers are lining up their grains at this moment, getting ready to win the race in brewing the state’s first husky, 12%-plus beer, which is allowable in 90 days. Perfect.

And you can be as sure as football in the fall, that breweries like Stone and Dogfish Head and, oh wait a minute, BrewDog(!), will be getting their larger beers out in front of Ohio drinkers very quickly.

Now don’t forget Buckeye craft beer fans, you might want to take off work that day after Thanksgiving.

So. Ohio brewers….on your mark…

Cheers!

Rick

follow me on twitter @indybeersleuth