Battle Between Beer Distributors, Lawmakers Causing Stir

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UPDATED: Wednesday April 24, 2013 6:36 PM

A battle is brewing that could affect how much you pay for your next beer.   

Some small beer-makers say state lawmakers are helping them from getting pushed out by the big guys.

The nine employees at Columbus Brewing Company do what they can to go from hops, to beer, to bottle, to profit.

About 15 miles north, 700 people work at the Anheuser-Busch brewery with the same goal in mind.

Both companies make beer and both are trying to get it to the consumer.

What is up for debate is the issue of “how.”

“If that brewery owns the distributor, they're not going to be interested in distributing other breweries' products, says Eric Bean, president of Ohio Craft Brewers Association and Brewmaster at Columbus Brewing Company.

Currently in Ohio, manufacturers sell to distributors, who then sell to retailers.

Lawmakers just took quick action to keep it that way.

They voted unanimously in the House and Senate on a bill, which, in part, blocks large breweries from buying distributorships.

“It means that you're going to have high quality beer at the most competitive prices. When you eliminate competition, say a brewery owned all the distributors, what do you think happens? Prices are going to go up,” said Republican state Rep. Jim Buchy.

However, in a letter to lawmakers, the North American president of Anheuser-Busch InBev argues it is an unfair move to favor wholesalers and wants the bill killed.

A spokesperson for Gov. John Kasich confirms he met with representatives from Anheuser-Busch Wednesday afternoon.

It was not immediately known if Kasich plans to sign the bill into law.

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