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Craft Beer Times | Ohio craft brewers confront law limiting growth:

Ohio craft brewers confront law limiting growth:

Ohio craft brewers confront law limiting growth:

A Brew-tiful Mess: How Ohio Law Restricts Craft Beer Growth

The Problem:

Ohio may be home to a variety of small craft breweries, but these innovators face an inherent problem – a 50-year-old law that restricts the production and distribution of high-alcohol beers.

According to Ohio law, any beer with an alcohol content greater than 12% must be sold in limited quantities – bottles and cans only – and cannot be offered on tap or sold anywhere other than the brewery itself. Dubbed the “12% rule,” this law has a major impact on the craft beer industry in Ohio.

Impact on Brewery Growth:

One of the biggest issues with the 12% rule is the effect it has on growth potential for small breweries. Without the ability to sell high-alcohol beers on tap or distribute them through retailers and bars, these breweries are forced to limit their reach and possibility for expansion.

For the small craft brewing industry, growth is key. Limited distribution hampers revenue, stifles competition, and can ultimately lead to the failure of small companies. The 12% rule threatens to suppress growth potential among Ohio’s craft breweries, restricting the state’s development of a thriving industry – one that could significantly contribute to economic development.

Ohio vs. Other States:

To contrast, other beer-producing states, such as California, permit breweries to sell high-alcohol beers on site and distribute them to local bars and retailers. California’s thriving craft beer industry is evidence of the benefits of providing small brewers with expanded distribution and sales opportunities.

For the industry to truly succeed and thrive in Ohio, it is necessary for legislators to modify the existing alcohol laws. Changes need to be implemented that will provide greater access to markets and revenue streams.

The Future:

Some Ohio breweries have already begun to speak out on the issue. BrewDog, a craft brewery and restaurant operating in Columbus, has taken an active stance, calling for the abolition of the 12% rule.

If more Ohio breweries follow suit and actively advocate for change, there may eventually be enough pressure to motivate officials to revise the law. These changes could create an environment in which small breweries in Ohio could truly flourish, expand their markets and offer a diverse range of products.

In conclusion, Ohio’s small craft breweries are operating in a brew-tiful mess, with the 50-year-old alcohol laws limiting growth and potential. The state’s laws on high-alcohol beer production and distribution must change if Ohio’s small brewers are to have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with states like California and grow their business.


Dustin is a writer about craft beer and a professional brewer in the city of Chicago. He has written for several magazines and has over a decade of experience in the beer industry. He is currently working on a book about the history of beer in Chicago.

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