E-Malt.com News article: USA, OH: Ohio to pass a bill that would end the limit of 12% alcohol for beers
Fans of “big” beers, those with an alcohol content of more than 8 percent, hit a low ceiling in Ohio, dispatch.com reported on September, 21.
The state mandates that no beer made or sold in Ohio can be more than 12 percent alcohol.
That puts Ohio on uneven ground in the competition for craft-beer expansions, like the $31 mln East Coast brewery planned by Stone Brewing Co. Columbus is in the running, but up against two cities in Virginia — Norfolk and Richmond — that are in a state that has no cap on what a brewer can do with beer.
It should be mentioned that almost all beer falls below 12 percent. Budweiser checks in at 5 percent, Guinness Draught at 4 percent and Yuengling Lager at 4.4 percent. Craft beers trend higher but rarely flirt with double-digit alcohol content. Stone’s Double Bastard Ale hits 10 percent, but its renowned Arrogant Bastard Ale is 7.2 percent.
Yet brewers crave freedom.
To this end, Ohio House Bill 391 would end the limit of 12 percent, pushing the cap to 21 percent and slipping beer into the ether between wine and liquor.
Beers with high alcohol content take longer to make and cost more, but they also let brewers explore flavors and complexity like never before, said Jason McKibben, brewmaster at North High Brewing Co.
“I don’t see any reason for a cap,” McKibben said. “There is no modern-day significance to having a limit on beer when wine and liquor is clearly over that limit.”
McKibben has made a few truly big beers, pushing close to 12 percent in small batches for the brewery’s Short North tap room. There is demand for higher alcohol content in beer, and it isn’t consumed by the same people or at the same occasions as cheaper, lower-alcohol beer, he said.
“It’s kind of a wine-like beer,” McKibben said. “It’s sipped.”
Ohio Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorraine, is the chief sponsor of the “beer bill” that aims to change the alcohol-content cap, but he presents it as an economic issue. He’s pushed for the cap to rise for the past three years, and he’s received support from the Ohio Craft Brewers Association and Stone CEO Greg Koch.
“At Stone, we are known for bold, aggressive beers that challenge the everyday beer fan to confront the industrialized notion of what we call ‘fizzy yellow beer.’ ”
Koch noted that the alcohol cap in Ohio is an issue in the race for Stone’s new brewery. A decision on the brewery is coming in the next month or so.
Ramos doesn’t just want to recruit breweries like Stone, but he also intends to support a beer industry that accounts for more than 100 breweries, 10,000 jobs and $1 bln in sales.
“The beer industry in Ohio is growing,” Ramos said. “We are an outlier on this issue. This is not a beer bill so much as an economic-interest bill. Stone has taken it from theory to reality."
Ohio’s neighbors, other than West Virginia, don’t cap the alcohol content of beer.
House Bill 391 has 21 co-sponsors, but has yet to receive a hearing. When asked why raising the alcohol limit is a big deal even though it impacts a negligible amount of beer production, McKibben said the explosive growth of craft brewers has shown that people want variety and craft brewers want to deliver it.
24 September, 2014