On the eve of World Series Game 6, I traveled to Cleveland to join the Ohio Craft Brewers Association (OCBA) for their final membership meeting of 2016 at Fat Head’s Brewery in Middleburg Heights.
OCBA Executive Director Mary MacDonald works alongside 11 board members and 258 guild members including 118 breweries, 18 breweries in planning and 122 allied members throughout the Buckeye state. The state is on track to surpass 200 breweries in 2016.
The OCBA has—through two promotional properties—successfully delivered innovative educational tools to market their brand and member breweries. Through these two properties, OCBA has effectively harnessed the important narrative of Ohio craft beer. The first is Ohio on Tap magazine, a guide to Ohio craft beer, highlights regional beer trails, the state’s destination breweries and local beers for every season. The second is the guild’s newly revamped website, OhioCraftBeer.org. It’s easy to navigate, and offers a plethora of important information—member directories, merchandise, upcoming events and a simple online tool to join the association.
The OCBA hosts numerous fundraising events throughout the year, including Dia de las Cervezas, Six One Pour, and OCBA’s signature event 10+ years running, Winter Warmer in March. Like most other states, regulatory scrutiny at these events is ramping up, so the OCBA event committee is preparing to release a “how to” for Ohio breweries to lawfully participate in these events.
In addition to these festivals, mark your calendar for February 7-9, 2017 for the third annual Ohio Craft Brewers Conference to be held in Cincinnati. Brewers Association Chief Economist Dr. Bart Watson is keynoting with Ohio’s craft brewing industry economic impact study and data. The education committee is currently developing a robust line up of seminars.
Earlier this summer, Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 37 into law repealing the state’s previous 12 percent ABV cap. At the end of August, the bill went into effect unleashing an ocean of new beer into Ohio markets. Here’s a list of all the over 12 percent offerings registered with the state Division of Liquor Control the very day it was permitted, August 31st. Removing this limit provides the opportunity for Ohio’s brewers to increase creativity and growth, modernizing the state to be on par with the rest of the country in terms of ABV limits.
Also being addressed by the OCBA’s Legislative Committee are concerns regarding reporting requirements, social media, off-premise sales and food service licenses and beer service regulations for events.
Ohio’s craft beer scene is among the most booming in the country, and garnering national recognition on the world stage accordingly. We, the lucky craft beer enthusiasts, are soaking it up! Cheers to #OHCraftBeer!