COLUMBUS - Ohioans could soon be sipping slightly more alcoholic suds if one state representative gets his way.
State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) introduced legislation on Monday to allow brewers to produce and sell beer containing up to 21 percent alcohol by volume.
Currently, Ohio law restricts beer sold or produce in the Buckeye State to be restricted to 12 percent ABV. The last time the cap was raised was in 2002 when legislators allowed it to grow form 6 percent to 12 percent.
Ramos said he hopes the move will help continue the growth that Ohio brewers have seen in the past couple years.
“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 in a release.
The legislator’s office said craft breweries provide an estimated 108,000 jobs nationwide and the industry has seen double-digit growth over much of the last decade.
According to the Brewers Association, there are more than 2,000 breweries operating in the U.S. currently and the nation was on pace to have more breweries open in 2013 than there are days in the year.
Ramos’ office said more breweries were operating in 2012 than at any time in the 1880s, the previous height of the American brewing industry.
Ramos bill calls for a one year delay period to allow in-state business to brew beverages in the 12 to 21 percent ABV category to compete with out-of-state brewers that offer similar products.
“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,” Ramos said. “It needlessly holds back Ohio brewers from having the freedom to experiment with new products, a restriction not faced by brewers in neighboring states.”
According to the legislator’s office, fewer than 10 states limit allowable ABV and of Ohio’s neighbors, only West Virginia has set a maximum.
The bill Ramos is proposing was first introduced in 2011 with eight co-sponsors. Ramos said that support has grown to 20 co-sponsors from across the state.
The bill is set to receive a number and be referred to a House committee for more review.