Stone Brewing is looking for an East coast home, you may have heard. And it might not be in Ohio, because that state limits beer to 12% Alcohol By Volume. Stone already has at least ten beers that that are over 12%, right now. (Including last year's Rookie of the Year.)
So it's not an ideal fit. I'd venture it's a deal-breaker unless the state can change the laws quickly.
But that did make me wonder. How much does Ohio's law affect the beer population as a whole coming out of Ohio?
There's a couple ways to look at this. If you first look at how people in Ohio are drinking, it doesn't seem like there's much of an effect. Here are the average ABVs by state, judged by the region in which the beer drinker found himself when he tipped his glass. Note that Ohio is currently drinking the fifth-strongest beers in America.
If we switch it up to the average ABV from the state on the beer label, you'd think we'd get a different result. You'd think. Except that Ohio still shows up in the top ten by ABV, despite the limit.
It's tempting to say that these laws aren't a big deal. That, despite the popularity of the big alcohol beers by rating, most people drink beers with single-digit ABVs.
But look at Tennessee down there at the bottom. In that state, a beer is called "high gravity" and is only legally sold in liquor stores once it crosses... 6.2% ABV. That's the sort of law that can really make a difference. Iowa and Utah have similar laws, but also interesting ways around it. That's how the average beer drunk in Utah is the weakest in America, and yet the state produces average-strength beers.
Ohio's ceiling is almost twice as high as the high gravity laws in those states, and so it affects the landscape in Ohio less. Alabama's law -- limiting beers to under 13.9% ABV -- has also had little effect on the state's average ABV. None of the capped states really show up as outliers on this list.
It is interesting to see that ABV caps seem to have less of an effect on the average ABV consumed in a state than laws aimed at distribution. Of course, all of that is fine and good until Stone wants to make a Wootstout in Ohio.
Sorry for the site outage yesterday, just a little growing pains as we get bigger and more popular. Thanks to Matt Dennewitz for working hard to get us back up and running!