Originally posted: July 2nd, 2014

Legislation pending in the Ohio House of Representatives would allow brewers to create beer with an alcohol content of 21 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), up from the currently allowed 12 percent. If approved, the change will help spur economic development in Ohio’s growing brewing industry, supporters say.

In December 2013, State Rep. Dan Ramos, a Democrat from Lorain, re-introduced the legislation, which has attracted bi-partisan support from more than 20 other legislators.

“The brewing industry is one of the few sectors that continued to experience growth through the recession. It is time Ohio abandons unnecessary regulations that put us at a competitive disadvantage with other states and do whatever we can to encourage the further growth of these businesses,” Rep. Ramos said.

According to Ramos, craft brewers currently provide an estimated 108,000 jobs nationally and the industry has seen double digit growth over much of the last decade, with more breweries operating in 2012 than at any time since the 1880s. To target Ohio’s brewers for further economic development, the bill calls for a one year delay period to allow in-state businesses to create products in the 12-21 percent category in order to compete with out-of-state breweries that sell similar products.

“With other higher-proof options already available on Ohio’s store shelves, often at a cheaper cost to the consumer, this archaic government regulation just doesn’t make sense,” Ramos said. “It needlessly holds back Ohio brewers from having the freedom to experiment with new products, a restriction not faced by brewers in neighboring states.”

Nationally, fewer than 10 states limit the allowable ABV in beer and of Ohio’s neighboring states, only West Virginia has a set maximum. Under current Ohio law, beer produced or sold in the state is restricted to 12 percent ABV. Ohio last raised its ABV cap in 2002, from 6 percent to 12 percent alcohol by volume.

Cameron Fuller of Athens, who is the process of opening a new brewery in Athens, supports the change. “I don’t see any point in trying to hamper output. High end beers are not something you drink to get drunk,” he said. Allowing Ohio brewers to make craft beers with higher alcohol contents and create even more and different varieties, he said.

According to the National Brewers Association, beer with alcohol contents higher than 12 percent account for about 2 percent of the craft-beer market. The legislation is currently under review by the House’s Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee.