Ohio lawmakers passed a bill last week that would boost craft brewing in the state by cutting permit fees by nearly 75 percent and changing distribution ownership laws, but it was met with some last second opposition by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which met with Gov. John Kasich before he signed it. Well, crack one open, Ohio craft brewers, the bill has become law.
To recap: Senate Bill 48, creates a new permit, the A-1c liquor permit, defined as a “small brewer” that is brewing under the 31 million gallon mark. The A-1c liquor permit fee is $1,000 instead of $3,906. The permit allows these brewers to manufacture and sell beer for home use, sell beer manufactured on the premises at retail for on premises consumption and sell beer products to retail and wholesale permit holders. Brewers will also be allowed to open a tasting room within a half-mile of their production facilities.
There is also now a prohibition against brewers owning a beer distributor, although AB InBev’s distribution facility in Canton, Ohio, was grandfathered in. AB InBev tried to tell its side of the story, but it was for naught. The worldwide brewer issued this statement in response to the news:
“We are very disappointed that this legislation will now become law and remain concerned about the manner in which this anti free market legislation was introduced and passed,” the company stated. “We have, however, had productive and constructive discussions with policymakers, and our concerns about the lack of transparency in the legislative process were heard and acknowledged. Positive assurances were made to address the issues that significantly impact our investments in the state. We are pleased with the open-mindedness demonstrated by the governor and legislators to working towards a more equitable solution.”