Ohio Legislature Wants to Raise Alcohol Content In Beer: An Economic Analysis



Lando says high alc beer helped Cloud Citys economy bounce back.
  • Lando says high alc beer helped Cloud City's economy bounce back.

The latest bright idea out of Columbus (no sir, that’s not sarcasm, the irony is back in the holster on this one — this light in fact shines) is to raise the level of percent alcohol allowed in Ohio-produced beers.

Right now, Buckeye breweries can only cook up beverages that have 12 percent alcohol. But under an amendment stuck onto the two year state budget proposal introduced into the Senate this week, that ceiling might be raised to 18 percent, according to the Associated Press.

State Senate Majority Leader Jimmy Stewart says tells [sic] The Columbus Dispatch that some of the state's smaller breweries would be very excited about making some limited-time products with higher alcohol content.

The newspaper reports Stewart offered the amendment after talking to the owners of a brew pub in his southeast Ohio district.

You might be wondering what exactly alcohol content has to do with state budgets and the economy? Well, a lot. You have to look over what economists call the “multiplier effects” of putting booze-high beer on the street. Let’s examine:

High alcohol beers are deceptive because they pack that increased punch in the familiar, non-threatening guise of a regular ol’ brewski. If you start putting them back like they’re Beast Ice, before you can wipe the nachos off your shirtfront, you’ll be drunk. Give it an hour or so, you’re in a cab on the way home to an early bed.

Let’s count the possible economic impacts rippling out from that scenario: The restaurant (1) made more money off those appetizers you impetuously ordered in a limp attempted to sober up. Your car is stuck somewhere, probably either on a street corner, meaning the city (2) will toss some tickets on the windshield, expanding the civic coffers, or, if you’re lucky, you’ve got it stashed in a lot, the operators (3) of which now will be taking home an overnight fee rather than the hourly rate. The taxi company (4) made cash off your service, not to mention the driver (5), because you know you always over-tip when you’ve been drinking.

The money keeps trickling the day after: High alcohol beers really can kick a hole in your head, and you’re going to need some Advil and bottled water, so a trip to CVS (7) is a necessity. As is another cab ride to get your car (8,9). If you’ve got a hangover at work, you’ll need to get some lunch (10) in you. All day long, you’re going to feel guilty about getting drunk the night before without meaning to; compunction alone will likely send you on a trip to either the gym (11), step (12) or yoga (13) class.

And after that work out, you’re probably going to be feeling good for the first time that day, so why not hit a bar for a couple more drinks (14)?

See that? 14 businesses and individuals could possibly benefit from a night of accidental drinking triggered by high alcohol beer. If this is the kind of economic impact idea the state is looking for, we’ve got tons of them. Once we find the cocktail napkin they’re written on, we’ll report back.

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