‘Beer’ includes all beverages brewed or fermented wholly or in part from malt products and containing one-half of one per cent or more, but not more than twelve per cent, of alcohol by volume.
According to this definition, popular brews such as Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (13%), Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (~18%), and many others are not considered “beer” by the state of Ohio. Because they are not categorized as beer, they are unavailable, and illegal, to sell within the state. For many consumers craving a taste of these bigger beers, that means a drive to a neighboring state to stock up. However, an amendment proposed by Jimmy Stewart (the Republican State Senator, not the actor) may raise the alcohol limit on beer from 12% to 18%. The limit has been 12 percent since 2002, when it was increased from the 6 percent it was set at in 1933 (you know, the end of Prohibition.)
Not only would this allow retailers in Ohio to carry higher alcohol products, but commercial brewers within Ohio would also be able to brew bigger. I support the change to the definition, as sales of bigger beers will benefit the consumer by being able to find these beers at their local bottle shop, as well as benefiting the retailers and state through a bump in revenue. Granted, access to these beers will only really impact a small portion of the beer drinking demographic. Opponents to the amendment argue that higher alcohol definitions of beer will lead to an increase in underage drinking, or an increase in consumption by underage drinkers. I don’t think that argument stands up to scrutiny, as the beers this would bring into Ohio are not ones that are typically sought out by younger drinkers, especially because of the price tag attached to these brews. The beers this would affect tend to be much more complex, and are meant to be consumed more slowly and enjoyed, or shared with a friend or friends.
We’re interested in your thoughts, so feel free to comment below on your take on the proposed amendment, as well as any over 12% beers you’ve had the opportunity to try!
Editor’s Note: For a good time read the comments on the Dispatch article. Oy.