Ohio Liquor Law Updates for Bars, Restaurants and Homebrewers

January 28, 2022

Ohio recently updated its liquor laws when Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 102. The new laws are effective March 23, 2022. We at KJK have included highlights below.

Ohio Homebrewers Update

Homebrewers can now rest assured that homebrewing beer without a permit is legal. Federal law allowed for homebrewing, but Ohio law had previously been silent on this issue. The new law recognizes this growing hobby and clarifies that it is legal for persons to brew their own beer and make their own wine without a permit for personal consumption. The law does place limits on the amount of beer a home brewer can make each year.

The new law also allows homebrewing enthusiasts to serve homemade beer and wine without a permit at tasting events on private property. These events can even be held at small breweries, wineries and micro distilleries. These events are subject to certain restrictions, such as that the sale of homemade beer and wine is still prohibited without a permit.

Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas (DORA) Update

Outdoor activities increased with COVID-19, and communities sought more outdoor opportunities for local bars and restaurants. Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas, or DORA, are outdoor areas where patrons can purchase and enjoy alcoholic beverages exempt from certain Ohio open-container laws. The updated DORA law increases opportunities for bars, restaurants and breweries by increasing the size of a DORA location and increasing the number of DORAs allowed in a community. The new law also simplifies communities’ population guidelines to create a DORA.

Lower Age Limit to Handle, Sell and Serve Alcohol

Staffing shortages have been an issue nationwide, and this new law expands potential employees for businesses in Ohio. Eighteen-year-old individuals can now handle, sell and serve alcohol as waiters and waitresses in hotels, bars and restaurants. The past law set the age limit to 19 years old and older. Bear in mind that the legal age to allow service of wine and spirits from across a bar has not changed and is still 21.

Social Media Rules are Clarified

Social media’s influence is still ever increasing and allows businesses many free opportunities to promote their businesses. Ohio’s update law clarifies that alcohol distributors, manufacturers, trade marketing professionals, solicitors and other salespersons can use free social media services to advertise on-premises brand promotions, beer, wine or liquor tastings, and product location communications. Restrictions on advertising to persons under the age of 21 still apply, as well as other restrictions in state and federal alcohol advertising laws.

If you have questions about complying with Ohio liquor laws or how these new updates can impact you or your business, reach out to Jeffrey Vaisa at jrv@kjk.com or 216.736.7287. We will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as they happen.