Ohio state legislature passed a new law last week lowering the licensing fees for craft brewers. This new law, Senate bill 48, contains language for a decrease in annual brewing permitting fees. The permit changes lower the annual licensing fee by almost 75% from $3,906 to an even $1000. This change will help ease some of the financial pain for smaller breweries.
The Ohio state government defined a craft brewery as any brewery producing under 31 million gallons a year. This definition is actually quite generous as only Anheuser-Busch InBev and Miller Coors are the only two breweries in the entire state to produce over the 31 million gallon limit. This line clearly distinguishes craft breweries from mass producing “big guys” whose licensing fees were unchanged by the bill.
The bill additionally made it legal for craft breweries to have a tasting room within a half-mile of their production facility without paying additional licensing fees. This will allow smaller breweries unable to supply a distributors demand to sample/sell their beer directly to interested customers.
In a surprisingly thorough limitation added to large-scale brewers the bill provided language making it impossible for breweries over the 31 million gallon limit to own distributors within the Ohio borders. Thus insuring that small market breweries can get fair access to distributors. An extremely helpful provision to ensure a fair and open market.
While this will of course result in a loss of annual revenue due to a decrease is annual fees the state legislature is optimistic that the lost revenue will be made up by increased craft brewing sales. Most craft breweries are strapped for cash and I am sure any decrease in licensing will feel like a free influx of desperately needed cash.
I applaud the Ohio legislature for passing comprehensive and extremely beneficial legislation helping small brewers do what they do best; make delicious beer.