Ohio Beer Counsel
Information and Commentary on the Issues Facing Ohio's Craft Beer Community, Breweries and Distilleries - Brewed by the Craft Beer Lawyers of Bruns, Connell, Vollmar & Armstrong's Brewery & Distillery Practice Group



Free Beer - What Can Your Brewery Provide


In the days leading up to UK's recent General Election, and to encourage voting, a European brewery offered voters a free pint upon showing a selfie outside their polling station.  As lawyers, we encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote. As lawyers to many established and start up Ohio craft breweries, we're interested in the manner in which this European brewery encouraged the voting process - a free pint. 

In Ohio, the longstanding law has been "no holder of a permit shall give away any beer or intoxicating liquor of any kind at any time in connection with the permit holder's business."  Simply stated, no free booze.  In our experience and interactions with Ohio's Division of Liquor Control, this includes a "house" beer actually paid for by the permit holder as it gives the impression to the public that the beer was given for free.

Following the change in the law allowing breweries to open tap rooms and serve beer on premises, many were left with a common question, "Can I try that beer?"  This question made (and continues to make) a lot of sense because as craft grew (and continues to grow), it inevitably draws consumers who are new to craft and want to know what the beer tastes like before they buy it.  

Breweries were stuck between a rock and a hard place.  On one hand, they wanted to accommodate patrons and allow them to try styles before deciding on one.  On the other hand, to do so would technically violate Ohio law.  Notwithstanding, the prevalence of samples rose across the State.

Given this reality, the State made the correct decision to conform the law to the marketplace. Effective April 6, 2017, it became legal  for A-1c and A-1-A (except those who also held A-2 winery and A-2f Ohio Farm Winery permits) permit holders to offer no more than 4 Tasting Samples to paying customers in a 24-hour period.  Subject to the applicable permit, "Tasting Sample" means one of the following.

  • An amount not to exceed two ounces of beer;
  • An amount not to exceed two ounces of wine;
  • An amount not to exceed a quarter ounce of spirituous liquor.

This is yet another example of Ohio's willingness to change antiquated liquor laws to conform to modern times.  

Contact us with questions about laws that affect your brewery and taproom.