House Bill No. 243, which goes into effect today, amends the Ohio Revised Code to eliminate the restriction on the number of certain liquor permits that may be issued.
“The opportunity for Ohio artisans to create or expand a small business with unique products is exciting and we’re proud to be a part of it,” said David Goodman, Director of the Ohio Department of Commerce in a press release. “The law had set a quota for only three of these licenses in the entire state; it just didn’t make sense to limit the opportunity.”
The previous language of the bill limited the permits issued to one per county, and only in counties with a population exceeding eight hundred thousand, of which there are only three in the state. Middle West Spirits previously held the sole permit for Franklin County. The permit allows micro-distilleries to offer tasting samples of their product at their facility and allows for limited carry out sales. The full bill is available here.
The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control issued the first new license today to Watershed Distillery as a result of the change. At least 11 other producers have applied for licenses already.
“People love to come in and tour our facility, but until now, they left disappointed that they could not buy a bottle,” said Greg Lehman, owner of Watershed Distillery. “Allowing the consumer to buy a tasting and buy a bottle competes the experience. It also makes it more valuable for micro-distilleries to offer tours.” Watershed will be open til 8:30pm this evening to accommodate those eager to make their first purchase directly from the distiller. They plan to add more distillery tours soon.
Craft beer manufacturers will also benefit from the new law, as they gain the ability to sell the products they make for carryout and by the glass at the brewery without being required to purchase a tasting room license on top of the brewing license they are already required to obtain.