Who We Are


WBWAO 3-tier system The manufacturing, distribution, sales and consumption of alcohol beverages are regulated differently than other food and beverages in the United States. In fact, few American industries are more highly regulated than the alcohol beverage industry, simply because of the unique properties of alcohol.

There are THREE separate and independent business groups in the alcohol beverage industry: Suppliers, distributors and retailers.

  1. Licensed suppliers (brewers, vintners and other manufacturers)
  2. Licensed distributors (beer, wine and other low-proof distributors are privately-owned; the state of Ohio acts as the distributor of high-proof alcohol beverages)
  3. Licensed retailers (your local grocery stores, club stores, convenience stores, restaurants, taverns, nightclubs and others)

Most governmental laws and regulations federal, state and local came after 1933 when the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Although the 21st Amendment repealed the failed national experiment of Prohibition, it also dramatically changed the conditions under which licensed beverages are sold and consumed.

The 21st Amendment granted to each of the states the authority to regulate the sale of alcohol beverages.

This system was designed to separate retailers from control by suppliers, encourage moderation in consumption, guarantee full collection of state and federal taxes and permit states to impose rules and regulations on the licensed beverage industry that reflect their own practices and beliefs.

For more than 75 years, the state of Ohio has worked successfully within this system for distributing beer and wine that's good for taxpayers, for consumers and for businesses large and small.

Why Ohio's Distribution System Works 

Ohio's system defines specific roles for suppliers, distributors and retailers. It works because it:

  • Helps achieve the state's long-standing policy goal of carefully regulating alcohol beverage distribution;
  • Ensures the state collects alcohol taxes efficiently;
  • Guarantees that consumers have access to a wide selection of beer and wine at reasonable prices; and
  • Supports a thriving retail industry.