Strong Beers in Iowa

Cap lifted for Iowa breweries

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver has signed a bill that allows Iowa breweries to make and sell beers up to 12% alcohol by volume. Out of state breweries were already selling these stronger beers in Iowa, but in-state breweries were restricted to a 5% abv. A movement for Iowa Beer Equality arose to remove the competitive disadvantage Iowa breweries faced. The passing of SF 2088 now allows Iowa brewers to sell many more styles of beer.

To celebrate, Olde Main Brewing in Ames will let customers pick the first strong beer the brewpub offers. “We’ve been getting a lot of questions on what will be the first high proof beer we brew,” Olde Main’s Jill Haverkamp said, “so we are planning to let the people decide by doing a poll.” Customers can vote at the brewery’s website.


  1. william.heinric says

    Part of SF 2091/2088 was that brewers holding AA licenses could brew and distribute beers up to 12% alcohol by weight, not by volume. That difference allows distributors to sell a markedly larger number of beers than 12% ABV. The current law distinguishes between “beers” that range from 0.5% by weight to 5% by weight and “high-proof beers”, which range from 5% by weight to 12% by weight. For brewers thinking about shipping into the state, its meaningless. All that you need to know is that the State of Iowa will not handle your beers if they are less than 15.1% ABV. For brewers and distributors in the state, all it means is an extra license and new streams of revenue revolving around great beer.

    This isn’t to be overly anal; it is to illustrate to anybody looking to do business in the state that things are way better than they were before 11:30am on Wednesday.

    By the by, things like TNP from Brewdog, Utopias from Boston Beer, and Black from Mikkeller still must pass through state warehouses. However, as these are beyond the scope of most retailers and consumers due to both price and intensity, special orders for these beers will be few, and therefore will be streamlined through the Iowa ABD. So, to answer bootleg’s post, no, it is not a perfect solution, but it is a great leap forward, and the option for purchasing beers that exist on the extremity of brewing is still there for Iowa retailers.

    It’s a great day for beer drinkers, brewers, retailers, and distributors in Iowa. We hope that out-of-state brewers will start looking at Iowa as a burgeoning market, as Iowa brewers being producing great beer in the state.


  2. freakbrothers says

    That was well put Bill.

    It’s nice to see that the state is “out of the beer business” finally.

    I’m really looking forward to immediate future to see what the local brewpubs and breweries will have to offer, although I’ve heard that it could be a while before they will be able to get their “AA” license. And now that the limit has been lifted hopefully all of the beer traveling through Iowa going elsewhere will soon be available on our shelves and on tap.


  3. william.heinric says

    I have heard that the AA’s are, for all intents and purposes, completed, and that the brewers and distributors are now able to play with the high-proof beers. In a practical sense, I think that the licenses will take effect next week some time.


  4. Ted Briggs says

    Hi Iowa brewers!
    As you all are new to this big beer thing I am vollenterring to help you with taste testing. Send me your barleywines, Double IPA’s and massive bocks and Ill let you know if I like them! 😎
    Nice to hear some good news after the goverment debockel in Philly.
    Good Luck!!