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Trouble Brewing in Ohio

There’s a new budget bill before the Ohio state legislature that was intended to allow self-distribution of wine to retailers along with mail order wine. That’s all well and good, but somebody snuck into the amendment a provision “barring brew pubs from selling takeout bottles and sealed jugs of beer.” The author of the budget amendment, House Finance Chairman Matt Dolan (Republican), claims to have no idea how or who put in the anti-brewpub language.

The Wholesale Beer & Wine Association is reluctantly supporting the measure (they’re opposed to the direct sale of wine), but only if the brewpub language is deleted.

It was first noticed and reported on April 20, and by the next day several trade groups were in talks with lawmakers. On Saturday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer was editorializing how bad it would be for the state’s small brewers and had elicited a promise from the bill’s sponsor, Matt Dolan, “keep the brew pub provision out of the bill.”

Curiously, some early reporting highlighted the benefit to the wine business while ignoring the potentially mortal blow being dealt to brewpubs and the beer community. Luckily, most are now reporting about the problems that will be created by the newly inserted language, such as an AP report entitled “Wine-sales amendment called flawed.” It appears likely now that the anti-beer language will be removed, but if you’re in Ohio, I’d recommend contacing your representative and urging him or her to make sure that it does get taken out. We can’t be too careful about these things. As this episode so aptly illustrates, neo-prohibitionists will stoop low to damage the beer industry if they think they can get away with it

When the dust settles on this, I’d really like to see them investigate who it was that was so hostile to beer and tried to effectively kill Ohio’s brewpub business. We should all know what or who we’re up against in the fight against neo-prohibitionists, but it’s even worse when they don’t show their face and work clandestinely under cover of darkness.

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