A bill which had been stuck in the Iowa state legislature for quite some time finally passed late last week and was signed into law by Iowa governor Chet Culver. The bill finally allows for beer with an ABV (Alcohol By Volume) percentage of up to 15% to be both brewed and sold in the state of Iowa.

According to the Mason City, IA Globe Gazette,

The legislation allows Iowa breweries to apply for newly created licenses to produce beer containing up 15 percent alcohol by volume. Another section of the bill allows Iowa’s beer wholesalers to apply for licenses to sell beers of similar strength. The measure is set to become law at the time of signing.

Previous Iowa law effectively limited alcohol content for beer produced by Iowa breweries to about 6 percent alcohol by volume.

While this was not the first bill of this nature to go before the Iowa legislature, what finally swung the pendulum in favor of higher gravity beer was the help of the Iowa Wholesale Beer Distributors Association. Prior to the passing of this law, high alcohol beers were able to be sold in Iowa, but not by private beer distributors. Instead, the high ABV beers were distributed throughout the state by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, a state-run agency.

“We are very supportive of this legislation because it means Iowa beer distributors will have the opportunity to sell high alcohol beer to consumers and to make available a wide variety of beers.” The IWBDA’s Douglas said. “I’m sure some (distributors) are very happy to be able to distribute brands that they weren’t able to before.”

It’s great to see legislation like this pass across the country, as it is always a win for craft breweries and artisan beers (I don’t believe Anheuser-Busch makes anything with an ABV that high). It is proof that more & more people (and “The Man”) are beginning to realize that there are options out there beyond watered-down, low alcohol boring beer and that many beers are on par with wine, not just in alcohol content but in the amount of respect they demand. Congratulations to the Iowa Brewers Guild for a hard fought battle and cheers to the thirsty people of Iowa – happy drinking!



  1. Only allowed to brew beer up to 6% ABV? Seriously? Come on people. Not to mention it gets cold there in the winter. What were the Iowan beer drinkers doing to keep themselves warm?

  2. Higher alcohol beer was available in Iowa. It just had to go through the State of Iowa’s distribution network. More cost and hassle for breweries. However, it was illegal for Iowa based breweries to brew anything over 6%.

  3. It’s that second part I’m excited about. Our local brewpubs can now brew some big beers. (Well, *legally* brew them, at least. Ahem.)

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