It’s a great time to be making booze in Ohio.
The state Division of Liquor Control says there are now 579 alcohol manufacturing licenses — including 156 brewing licenses — issued in the Buckeye State, an all-time high.
That’s also double the number from just five years ago.
State leaders attributed the increase to friendlier business regulations, the growing popularity of locally made products and improving economy.
“These businesses produce high quality, world-class products made right here in Ohio, many with locally sourced ingredients,” Commerce Director Jacqueline Williams said in a prepared statement. “They benefit the state by offering the kind of products Ohio consumers want and contributing to job creation and economic growth.”
Wineries lead the pack, with 232 licenses. Craft breweries are second with 156. (Some breweries hold more than one license so there aren’t actually 156 different breweries in the state.)
The Division of Liquor Control has issued 29 craft brewing licenses, 21 winery licenses and four micro distillery licenses this year. There are also many pending applications in each of those categories. For example, there are more than 20 brewery applications pending.
When it comes to craft beer, in particular, the state has made it easier for breweries to open over the last several years. It allowed breweries to open tasting rooms without purchasing a second license and lowered the cost of an annual license for craft operators from $3,906 to $1,000.