New Ohio law could boost craft beer breweries

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AKRON, Ohio - Ohio craft brewers hope a new state law allowing production
breweries to open tasting rooms and sell their beer by the glass without
buying a second costly permit will help boost beer tourism by bringing
breweries more in line with winery tasting rooms.

Breweries have been charged $3,906 annually for that second permit in
addition to paying the same amount for their manufacturing license. The
cost of the second permit had deterred many small production breweries
from opening to the public.

Ohio wineries pay $76 for their annual license and don't have to pay for a
second permit for tasting rooms, according to the Ohio Department of
Commerce, which oversees the Division of Liquor Control. Wineries have
flourished by marketing themselves as tourist destinations, and some have
created "wine trails" where visitors go from winery to winery and sample
products, the newspaper reported.

Like wineries, microbreweries will now be able to "showcase their products
in a relaxed setting," said Chris Verich, who owns and manages brewing
operations at Ohio Brewing Co. in Akron and plans to open a tasting room.

He said the bill signed Wednesday by Gov. John Kasich marks "a great day
for Ohio microbreweries and the Ohio craft brewing industry." The measure
was scheduled to take effect in 90 days.

The president of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association says it is "long
overdue." Association president John Najeway, who's also co-owner of
Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron, said his business has paid for a second
permit for a couple of years to have a tasting room.

Other breweries looking to open tasting rooms include Black Box Brewing
and Indigo Imp Brewery in northeast Ohio, Mt. Carmel Brewing and
Listermann Brewing in southwest Ohio and Neil House Brewery in the central
part of the state, the newspaper reported.

"The wheels have always been rolling when it comes to the idea of building
a tasting room, but we couldn't justify the cost of the license," Mt.
Carmel assistant brewer Patrick Clark told the newspaper in an email.

The Mt. Carmel brewery in suburban Cincinnati has provided in-depth
explanations of the brewing process to people touring the facility.

"But let's be honest -- tasting is the most important part of the
process," Clark said.

Republican state Rep. Casey Kozlowski of Pierpoint, who co-sponsored the
bill, said he sees plenty of potential for economic development with the
growing craft beer industry, especially given the popularity of wine
tourism. The state-run Ohio Grape Industries Committee estimates Ohio
wineries and festivals attract more than 2 million visitors annually.

The brewery issue was an amendment on a bill that focused mainly on
micro-distilleries. Under the new law, the state also will allow the
opening of more micro-distilleries, or businesses producing less than
10,000 gallons a year.

Previously, only three micro-distillery licenses were available, and they
were restricted to Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties.

The state wants artisan distillers and brewers to have the opportunity to
create and grow their businesses, which tend to use and rely on local
products, said Lyn Tolan, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Commerce.


Read more:
http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/new-ohio-law-could-boost-craft-beer-breweries-wcpo#ixzz1helcVmvl
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