Ohio brewers now allowed to make boozier beer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Craft brewers in Ohio now have the freedom to make boozier beers.

A new state law takes effect Wednesday, scrapping caps on alcohol content for beer.

Ohio is following the lead of other states in getting rid of its 12 percent cap that has been on the books since just after Prohibition.

Craft brewers have flinched at anything restricting their ability to be creative and make stronger ales.

Legislators say the law levels the playing field and makes Ohio even more attractive to smaller breweries looking to locate to the state.

It removes one layer of restriction to [brewers’] creativity, so it's definitely not a big part of our business plan to brew high alcohol beers, but it's definitely fun,” said Sam McNulty, owner of Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City.

Market Garden is releasing a 15 percent alcohol by volume Belgian quad called the Cap-Lifter Quad, which will be served in 5 ounce portions for sipping. Market Garden recently opened a new 43,000 square foot brewery as it scales up production and distribution to serve the growing craft beer market.

“It's a beer fueled Renaissance here in Ohio city. We've been able to create over 200 jobs, we've renovated buildings, we've constantly expanded and removing one restriction like this is definitely going to help us expand even more.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is not taking a stance on the legislation, itself, but called for caution.

“You're going to reach impairment quicker,” said MADD Ohio State Executive Director Doug Scoles. “MADD urges anyone who is planning to drink alcohol to plan ahead for a non-drinking driver or call Uber or public transportation or a taxi to get them home safely.”

Market Garden isn’t the only local brewer taking advantage of the change in law. Hoppin Frog in Akron rolled out a 13.8 percent Toris Russian Imperial Stout Wednesday. Thirsty Dog in Akron is developing two high alcohol beers to be released in the next couple of weeks. Platform Beer in Cleveland said it will be releasing a high alcohol beer this winter, while Great Lakes Brewing Company said it does not yet have plans for a new high alcohol content beer.

Craft beer is a $22 billion industry in the U.S., and sales were up last year nearly 13 percent over the previous year.