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House measure seeks shipment, expanded sales of alcoholic ice cream

Special to the Legal News

Published: June 11, 2019

Customers of Over-the-Rhine original Buzzed Bull Creamery, known for its liquid nitrogen-boosted milkshakes and alcohol-infused ice creams, can't get enough.

Owner and brand founder Colten Mounce recently told state lawmakers in the Ohio House of Representatives that customers ask every day if they can buy the boozy ice cream to go or via delivery.

"We have brides and grooms who want us to supply our ice creams at their wedding," he said. "We have large food and music festivals who want us to distribute ice cream.

"We have many restaurants lined up to start buying our product and more asking every week."

As Ohio law stands, Buzzed Bull cannot do any of those things. Alcoholic ice cream, which contains between 0.5 and 6 percent alcohol by volume, may only be sold by an A-5 permit holder for on- or off-premises consumption.

"Unfortunately, at this point when people ask, we must tell them no," Mounce said. "I am hoping with your help we can change that."

He was on hand to offer testimony in support of a House measure that would ease some of the restrictions associated with the licensed sale of alcoholic ice cream.

Filed as House Bill 160, the legislation would allow Buzzed Bull Creamery to ship the ice cream to a personal consumer via a permitted shipper and to sell the ice cream to retail liquor permit holders for resale to personal consumers.

For direct shipment to a personal consumer, the bill proposes that the shipping company possess an H liquor permit, such as FedEx or UPS.

According to Ohio Legislative Service Commission analysis of HB 160, a shipment of alcoholic ice cream by an A-5 permit holder to a personal consumer is subject to the following:

• The package in which the ice cream is being shipped must be clearly marked with the words "alcohol enclosed" in bold print;

• Prior to sending the shipment, the A-5 permit holder or an employee must make an effort to ensure that the personal consumer is at least 21; and

• At the time of delivery, the H permit holder or an employee must verify that the personal consumer is at least 21.

"An A-5 permit holder must keep a record of each shipment of alcoholic ice cream sent to a personal consumer," research associate Jeff Grim wrote for the commission. "Also, the A-5 permit holder must annually provide to the Division of Liquor Control a report that includes the name and address of each personal consumer who purchased alcoholic ice cream via shipment and the quantity that the consumer purchased."

HB 160 also would eliminate the restriction on the number of pints of alcoholic ice cream that a personal consumer may purchase each day from an A-5 permit holder.

Currently, consumers are restricted to four pints a day.

"Ohio has an opportunity to become a national leader in this product with laws that are more conducive to this business," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati. "Buzzed Bull Creamery in Cincinnati has a business model that is great for our state.

"Analysts on Wall Street have pegged this industry at 1.25 and 2.5 billion dollars per year in the United States by 2022. Let's keep this growth in Ohio and lead in this industry."

Mounce said the legislative fix, indeed, would allow his business to compete at a national level.

"Aside from how this will help us, we believe this will stimulate the local economy by providing additional jobs and tax revenue," he said. "Furthermore, this will allow us to keep operations based out of Ohio and not a nearby state with laws that are more conducive to this business.

"We are an Ohio-based business and want to stay one. We are looking to make our company the leader in this market - something Cincinnati and Ohio are known for."

A franchised location was set to open in Wilmington, N.C., this spring, while another is planned for Atlanta, according to the business' website.

A third hearing of the bill which enjoys cosponsorship of eight fellow House members was scheduled later in the week.

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