Bill would allow high powered beer

CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – A piece of Ohio legislation could have craft brewers on a level playing field with neighboring states.

“It’s a creativity thing for us,” said Steve Barnhart, President of Lock 27 Brewing in Centerville.

Breweries like Lock 27 are always creating new brews with their own sense of character and taste.

In Ohio, craft breweries are part of a $1.2 billion industry, according to the Ohio Brewer’s Association.

But like any artist, it is not always about the money.

“We like to stretch the bounds as a craft brewer,” said Barnhart. “It’s all about quality and not necessarily quantity.”

But brewers like Barnhart would like to have more quality options.

If one Ohio lawmaker has his way, brewers across the state could have just that. Democratic Representative Dan Ramos of Lorain is trying to get House Bill 391, or the Ohio Beer Bill, into law.

It would allow brewers to make craft beers with a higher alcohol content, up to 21 percent. Currently, the state only allows beer to be made up to twelve percent.

“As a craft brewer, we rely a lot on our home markets,” said Barnhart. “So to have that limitation, it really takes our home markets out of it as we start to look at expanding on a national basis, it’s hard to do so.”

It not only limits the choices, it also has customers getting those high alcohol content beers elsewhere across state lines.

Breweries like Lock 27 are hoping to keep that money and customers here in the Buckeye State.

“I think our legislature has done a great job with starting to loosen some of the restrictions we’ve always had,” said Barnhart. “I just think this is the next step.”

House Bill 391 is currently assigned to the Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee. Last time it was proposed in 2011, it failed to pass committee.

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