Like Joan of Arc in Orléans, Ohio craft beer advocates have battled on at the legislative table to pass a bill that would raise the state’s maximum allowed ABV for beer from 12 percent to 21 percent. Yesterday afternoon the battle was won as a surprise new version of House Bill 68 was passed by the committee, placing the local ABV cap at a whopping 50 percent.
The conversation regarding Ohio’s ABV limit for beer was started as early as 2011 by Rep. Dan Ramos and the bill came back into play in the spring of 2015. This latest revision has managed to fly under the radar due to an uncommonly quick push through House and Senate committees but is seen as a positive change for the Ohio craft beer scene. This change will allow Ohio breweries more freedom to experiment alongside a number of bordering states with no beer alcohol limit such as Michigan, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
The Actual Brewing Company is already planning on ways to experiment with their newfound brewing freedom. The brewery is working on a Belgian Strong Ale, called the Guud Tyme, that could top out at a robust 40-45 percent using a process Owner Fred Lee called Microfluidic Vacuum Fermentation.
“It allows us to take the alcohol by volume to the next level,” said owner Fred Lee. “20-25% is plausible but it’s been done so many times before so we’re shooting higher…because that’s science!”
Some of the highest ABV craft beers include Samual Adams Utopias, an American Strong Ale ranging between 22-28 percent, the DogFish Head 18 percent 120 Minutes IPA and the now-retired Hair of the Dog Brewing Company Dave, which tapped in at 29 percent and is know to sell for an upwards of $4,000 now. Lee thinks of these beers only as a mere challenge.
“Why limit yourself?,” Lee said. “We can even make 500 percent beers if we want. 20 percent is really only half way towards a good time.”
Despite educated, scientific arguments from local breweries, some members of the community are worried that this new bill will encourage the overconsumption of alcohol.
“These big [hiccup] boozey beers are a disgrace,” said local resident John Smith, wiping his chin and tucking a brown paper bag-wrapped bottle of 80-proof liquor back into his backpack. “People will get too drunk! It’s just damn dangerous to sell beer above 12 percent,” he said, pulling a bottle of wine (16% ABV) out of the same bag. Twist-off cap.
April Fools! Although we really hope the real ABV increase passes soon!