The craft beer industry in Mississippi has grown over the past ten years. There are now nine breweries in the state, where in 2004, there were none.
Update: House Bill 1322 was passed by the Ways & Means committee Tuesday morning and will go on to the House floor for a vote.
The timeline of when the bill will be discussed in the House is unclear at this time.
Laws surrounding brewing and selling beer in Mississippi have undergone a slow yet encouraging evolution, allowing for a higher alcohol by volume content, and for Mississippians to be able to become business owners by launching their own labels.
Now, two bills could boost the beer business in Mississippi even more.
The bills both would authorize small craft breweries to sell light wine or beer they produce on the premises of the brewery.
“Mississippi is just one of only two states that doesn’t allow on-premises sales,” said Matthew McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Mississippi Brewers’ Guild. “You can’t buy a pint, you can’t buy anything more that you tried that you like, you can’t buy a six-pack to go, you can’t fill a growler, anything.”
Georgia is the only other state in the country that doesn’t allow for direct sales from the breweries.
McLaughlin said that these bills move the state forward, and allow for Mississippi to compete with other states.
“It’s a revenue stream for them, that doesn’t currently exist in Mississippi,” said McLaughlin. “But it’s also research and development. They can get consumer feedback without having to make huge batches of beer..validated by the market.”
Without this legislation, according to McLaughlin, the breweries in Mississippi are at a disadvantage.
“I cannot stress how important this legislation is,” said McLaughlin. “It would put Mississippi brewers on a more level playing field.”
Other advocacy groups have also rallied behind the beer bills.
But not everyone is thrilled with the push behind these bills.
Opposition has risen from Anheiser-Busch which own around 65 percent of the market share in Mississippi. Local brewers, collectively, only make up around 3 percent.
News Mississippi will continue to follow these bills through the legislative process.