As all of you know, we are very lucky here in Cleveland to have a wealth of different breweries close to home. We have Great Lakes, Market Garden, Hoppin Frog (in Akron) Indigo Imp, Willoughby Brewing, The Brew Kettle and many others! And, if you’re in for a short road trip, Jackie O’s brewery and Columbus brewery in the Athens and Columbus areas respectively, have delicious offerings only available here in Ohio.
Ohio is also seeing increased distribution from breweries outside the state that previously were unavailable to us, such as the recent inclusion of New Belgium Brewing just yesterday. I have been lucky to have had New Belgium in other states, and it is a welcome and delicious addition to the beer sold in our fine state.
Still, we continue to see beers sold in other states that border us, but not here in Ohio. Much of this is due to the laws restricting beer sales by alcohol percentage. Currently, the highest ABV (alcohol by volume) percentage available for sale in Ohio is, 12%. This number is restrictive to some of the large breweries in California, Oregon and elsewhere that can see ABV’s of 14%-16% and higher from some of their more solid stouts, porters, and imperial IPA’s. Even some of the beers brewed just across the border in Michigan, are not seen here in Ohio.
This restrictive cap on ABV makes it impossible to purchase rarer, or nationally recognized beers here in Ohio, and is even worse for our own breweries. Currently, restricted to the 12% cap, our brewers cannot be as experimental and creative as they could be, which makes it very difficult for them to compete in a national or global market. Not often do we see an imperial stout, barley wine, or triple IPA brewed by our local breweries because it is just too difficult to brew a proper beer of that caliber within the confines of a 12% ABV.
Fortunately, there are members of our State Government who are working hard to increase that limit from 12% to 21%. State Representative Dan Ramos (D) of Lorain, has been working on introducing legislation that will support that increase and benefit the residents of the State of Ohio. One blogger, Jeremy Rupp has been in contact with Mr. Ramos, and keeps an updated blog of the progress of this legislation. Click here to read his blog. Make sure to sign the petition to increase the ABV, there is a link located in the most recent post. Hopefully, in the not so distant future, we can purchase items from breweries such as Firestone Walker, Gigantic Brewing, Deschutes, Ninkaski, Russian River, Kern River and many, many more who produce amazing, higher ABV beers not available to us here in Ohio.
In the meantime, we can all sit around and enjoy a delicious Citramax Ipa from Market Garden, or a Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes, and don’t forget about the amazing, wonderful, delicious Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter from Willoughby Brewing! Breweries are popping up everywhere, like Black Box Brewing in Westlake, and Portside Distillery and Brewery in the Warehouse District, which will be opening it’s restaurant/brewery/distillery sometime in the spring of 2014. It’s an exciting time for beer lovers in Ohio, we are getting national recognition for some of the beers brewed by our breweries and becoming competitive in a market dominated by the west coast.
Let’s all support State Representative Dan Ramos as he continues to advocate for our breweries and for craft beer aficionado’s in Ohio. You can also contact your local representatives and express your support in writing as this bill becomes assigned to a committee.