Lorain state rep. Dan Ramos wants to give Ohio's breweries a competitive advantage: Stronger brew

More alcohol in beer could mean more jobs

CLEVELAND - A local rep wants to pour it on when it comes to drinking beer in Ohio.

Lorain state representative Dan Ramos is pushing a bill in Columbus that would lift the amount of alcohol in beer. As it stands right now, the state allows beer to be 12 percent alcohol. Ramos wants that number to nearly double to 21 percent.

"The brewing industry is one of the few sectors that continued to experience growth through the recession. It is time Ohio abandons unnecessary regulations that put us at a competitive disadvantage with other states and do whatever we can to encourage the further growth of these businesses,” Ramos said.

Ramos' office released numbers which said across the country craft brewers account for 108,000. Here just along West 25th Street there are three brewers, two more under construction and a possible sixth one in the works.

“With other higher-proof options already available on Ohio’s store shelves, often at a cheaper cost to the consumer, this archaic government regulation just doesn’t make sense,” said Ramos.

The bill, which does not have a number, is aimed at allowing Ohio-based brewers to design and create new beers which can be brought by people here. Right now, people looking for that alcoholic level have to purchase the beers out of state.

"The more we can grow this and the fewer restrictions in the way of that growth, the more jobs we can create and improve the local economy," said Sam McNulty, owner of the Market Garden Brewery.

McNulty, a supporter of the bill, said his business employees 160. "We are selling a product made right here in Cleveland," he said. "The more we can grow this and the fewer restrictions there are in the way of that growth, the more jobs we can create and improve the local economy," he continued.

We spoke with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and they said they have not taken a position on the bill.

Debbie Rodriguez, CEO of Recovery Resources based in Cleveland, is concerned alcoholic drinkers may not realize how much more alcohol is in their drink.

"A healthy adult drinking legally can drink a beer or two and get behind the wheel of a car and be legal and be able to drive safely. That changes dramatically when the alcohol content in a beer can be up to 21 percent.

"People are not going to know or understand that difference when they are at a party or bar and they have a beer," she said. "Because they were always able to drive safely with two or three beers, they are going to expect the same result," she continued.

The bill was first introduced in 2011 with eight sponsors. It now has 20. Once it is assigned a number it will be referred to the standing House committee for consideration.

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