Gormet beer bill goes flat(MSU spelling)

Mississippi residents will once again be denied beer with an alcohol content above the current legal limit of 5 percent by weight as the gourmet beer bill died in the finance committee of the Mississippi Senate Tuesday.

A group of Mississippi residents created the grassroots effort Mississippians for Economic and Beverage Advancement in spring 2007, attempting to raise the legal limit of alcohol in beer from 5 percent to 17 percent.

MEBA co-founder Butch Bailey said the group was expecting the number to be amended to 8 percent.

“It would still be less than wine, which is 10 percent by weight,” he said.

Bailey said the bill could have helped Mississippi economically.

“These products can cost two and a half times more than normal beer,” he said. “Without raising any taxes at all because they cost so much more, [this] will raise the revenue.”

Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia are currently the only three states to keep the alcoholic content of beer this low, he said.

MEBA co-founder Todd Parkman said the organization has been following grassroots Free the Hops effort started four years ago to raise the Alabama legal limit on beer alcohol content.

“It looks like they may actually get their legislation passed this year,” he said. “Then, Mississippi would be surrounded by states that have this law.”

Like Free the Hops, MEBA includes no lobbyists, but it has gained 1,300 to 1,500 Mississippian residents that want to see the laws updated, he said.

“These are prohibition-type laws, there’s no way around it,” he said. “We were the first state to accept prohibition and the last to get rid of it.”

This prohibition of higher alcoholic content in beer may be hurting the only brewery in the state of Mississippi, Lazy Magnolia, Parkman said.

“Lazy Magnolia has been one of the great success stories of the state,” he said. “They can’t produce enough. You’ve got this great small business, but you’re stifling what they can do.”

Many gourmet beer drinkers purchase their favorites in other states and bring them back into Mississippi, he said.

Thad Edwards, MSU police officer and crime prevention coordinator, said though Mississippians may like to have these gourmet beers, they are still illegal to possess in the state.

“It is unlawful to possess alcohol, beer or wine or whiskey that was purchased from another state in the state of Mississippi,” he said. “It is untaxed, therefore, it is prohibited.”

If the legal alcohol limit was raised, Rick’s Cafe owner Rick Welch said he would be able to offer more variety to customers.

An increase in alcohol content might not increase spending on alcohol but shift it to another beer, much like when Budweiser came out with Bud Light with Lime, Welch said.

“To me, a person is only going to spend so much on alcohol,” he said. “If you increase the choices, they might spend a little more on another product.”

Cowbells manager Jay Bradley said beers like Fat Tire, a Colorado-based ale, are just above the legal alcohol content in Mississippi so they cannot be served.

“A lot of beer my out-of-town friends talk about, we can’t get here,” he said. “I’d be down for [the bill passing] just to get that variety.”

Robert Clark, president of one of Mississippi’s major distributors, Northeast Mississippi Coca-Cola Bottling Company, refused comment on his company’s thoughts about the bill.

“We ourselves are trying to determine … how [this bill] affects ourselves and our business,” he said.

Parkman said MEBA members plan to continue the effort until they get the legislation passed.

“We’re not going away,” he said.

Calls to Senate Finance Committee members Dean Kirby, Sidney Albritton, Eugene Clarke and David Baria were not returned by the time of publication.

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6 Responses to “Gormet beer bill goes flat(MSU spelling)”

  1. bigwoolymammoth Says:

    just crazy……im sure everyone would go buy their $12 6pack of beer and be out riding them dirt roads a hootin’ and hollerin’. wake up MS!! get with the times!!

  2. farley662 Says:

    Pretty sure the same jerkoffs who voted this down enjoy a cold one every once in awhile. I hate the South sometimes when people grandstand on things like this just because they don’t want to “offend” the people they see at church each Sunday morning after partying every Saturday night.

  3. tupelotalk Says:

    Your hardcore drinkers aren’t spending $40-50 per case.

    This accomplishes nothing but upsetting the few of us that enjoy high quality beer.

    Good god, I can buy a 1/2 pint of 180 proof Everclear for a couple bucks, but not a 12 proof(6%) beer. MAKES SENSE

  4. Beer Laws Says:

    You people are all misinformed. MS law is 6%, not 5%, as reported. Fat Tire could be sold in MS if New Belgium would expand here. Mr. Clark worries who he’ll piss off by saying anything – he is not going to comment either way. The state will not profit in this – we are talking about a miniscule amount of beer sales. Why would Lazy Mag care – they can’t meet demand on the products they have already.

  5. tupelotalk Says:

    Currently in Mississippi, the law caps the alcohol content in beer sold in the state at 5 percent by weight or 6.2 percent by volume.

    Fat tire’s alcohol content is 5.3% by WEIGHT, not volume.

    Fat Tire is already sold in Memphis, so expanding isn’t the issue. They’re already delivering within 100 miles.

    And I promise, Lazy Magnolia is paying attention.

    Better check your facts “Beer Laws”.

  6. bigwoolymammoth Says:

    how can i join MEBA? i would like to free the hops.

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