If you're finding lately that your local tavern's quaffs are packing more of a wallop, it could be because an increasing number of states are allowing higher alcohol content in beer. States across the country are legalizing stronger brews with up to 16 percent alcohol by volume.

Alabama and West Virginia both OK'd stronger beer in 2009, from a cap of 6 percent to as high as 13.9 percent. Vermont and Montana moved in the same direction in 2008, with Montana allowing beer as high as 14 percent alcohol, and Vermont greenlighting 16 percent-alcohol ales.

Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina all raised their caps on alcohol in beer from 2002 to 2007. Iowa and Mississippi are considering similar steps next year.

Why all the extra buzz? Consumer groups and brewers interested in home brewing and "craft beers" -- small-batch artisanal brews that tend to have a higher alcohol content.

Unsurprisingly, critics warn that stronger beer will, you know, get you drunk faster. But that argument doesn't seem to be stopping states.