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Campus area bars and breweries react to lift of ABV cap

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At midnight on Aug. 31, World of Beer at Gateway cracked open a keg of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, a beer with an Alcohol by Volume of 18 percent, the first brew over 12 percent to be served at the location.

It is just one of the many bars, breweries and restaurants in Columbus that will now be serving stronger varieties of beer in response to the elimination of Ohio’s 12 percent ABV cap on beer that went into effect Wednesday.

An amendment to Ohio House Bill 37 was passed on May 31, eliminating any limit on the alcohol content in beer brewed, served and sold in Ohio.

With a stronger and more flavorful beer comes a higher cost, said Dr. Brian Waters, a Food Science and Technology professor at Ohio State.

“I look forward to being able to enjoy a nice strong craft beer, but I’ll also be paying a lot more for it,” he said.

One way that breweries can raise the alcohol content in a beer is by freezing it, which removes the water and concentrates the alcohol and the flavor, said Waters. The extra time and work it takes to make these beers results in a higher cost for consumers.

There have been arguments against eliminating the ABV cap because of public health issues. Waters said he does not anticipate a problem because stronger beer is more expensive and still has a lower alcohol content than cheaper liquor.

Brian McGlothlin, general manager at World of Beer said the change in the law will allow the bar to serve many rare and high-end beers, but what he is most interested in is what local breweries will do with this new opportunity.

Andy Bodi, a fifth-year in economics also looks forward to local breweries’ reaction.

“It’s awesome. I can’t wait to see the new stuff local breweries are going to come out with,”he said.

North High Brewing in the Short North Arts District plans to brew an Imperial IPA with an ABV of 13 percent to be released in October. The brewery is also working on a new brew around 12 percent ABV that will then be barrel aged, causing the ABV to increase.

Co-owner and brewmaster at North High Brewing, Jason McKibben, said the lift of the cap will affect consumers most.

“It’s going to enhance the variety of beer, and that’s good for consumers because they want variety and they want what’s new,” said McKibben. “Stronger beer allows for more concentrated flavors and the use of creative ingredients.”

Not only will the change in the law allow for stronger beer to be brewed in Ohio, but it will allow stronger beer to be brought in and sold from out of state.

Fourth Street Bar and Grill east of campus intends to expand its beer menu to include more brands and higher ABVs, including selections from the Evil Twin Brewing company, which has breweries all over the world.

Ethyl and Tank, another bar just off of OSU’s campus, also intends to expand its selection of beers to include ones with higher ABVs.

Restaurants in the area have the opportunity to expand beer selections as well to offer a wider, stronger variety of beer, but the transition may take time.

“A strong beer has a time and a place, and that should usually involve food,” said McKibben.

Chris Mendoza of Condado Tacos in the Short North said the restaurant and bar will be incorporating beers with higher ABVs into its menu, but it will be a process as Columbus breweries adjust to the change.

“Beer with a higher ABV takes longer to brew, so once local breweries start distributing beers with higher ABVs, that’s when we’ll start selling them,” said Mendoza.

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