Bruce Stevenson is the superintendent of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. He was appointed to lead the agency in January 2011 after working at there in various roles for two decades. For 13 years, he served as deputy superintendent of the Division’s Licensing Section, which is responsible for issuing and renewing the state’s 23,000 manufacturer, wholesale distributor and retail permit licenses. Stevenson, who is a graduate of Youngstown State University, also has served as chief of the Permit Division, and chief of the Beer and Wine Division.
Question: What does the Ohio Division of Liquor Control oversee when it comes to beer and breweries?
Answer: The Division licenses all Ohio manufacturers, distributors and retailers of beer. All beer products approved for sale in the state are registered by the Division. We also register all out of state manufacturers/suppliers, and the solicitors of all manufacturers, suppliers or distributors.
Q: Ohio has seen a huge surge in brewery openings. Has that had any effect on how the agency operates? (For example, has it created a greater workload?)
A: The recent increase in the number of licensed breweries in Ohio is due in part to new regulations that went into effect in March. One of the main provisions allows breweries to sell their products by the glass without needing an additional and expensive permit. The Division takes a common sense approach to our responsibilities in order to help Ohio businesses grow and create jobs. We’ve been actively working with many new businesses to provide whatever assistance we can so quality Ohio companies have an opportunity to flourish.
Today, there are 73 licensed breweries holding A-1 permits in Ohio and another 13 applications pending. Of those licensed facilities, 44 businesses also hold an A-1-A permit which is typically issued to a restaurant attached to a brewery to allow the sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages other than those manufactured at the location.
Q: Is there any limit to the number of brewery licenses available in a community or in the state? If not, can you ever envision there being a limit?
A: Manufacturing licenses are non-quota permits, so there are no limits on the number that may be issued in community or state wide.
Q: Ohio is large beer market. Are you seeing an increase in the number of out-of-state breweries seeking to sell their beer here?
A: There are always new businesses seeking to engage in businesses in the State of Ohio. Within the last several years, the Division has registered numerous out of state suppliers of beer. These range from small micro-breweries from across the nation to large breweries such as Yuengling.
Q: There was an effort last year to raise the alcohol limit of beer from 12 percent to 18 percent in Ohio. It failed. Do you foresee a time when the state will either eliminate that limit or raise it?
A: The percentage of alcohol contained in beer is defined by statute. Any increase from the current 12 percent limit would require a statutory change. The Division has not been involved in any recent discussion on this issue.