On July 1, Mississippi craft beer consumers, and the breweries they frequent, enjoyed the fruits of their recent legislative success by celebrating the one-year anniversary of the passing of HB1322. The passing of this bill allows for breweries to sell up to two cases of beer directly to the consumers from their taprooms.
Previously, Mississippi breweries were only allowed to provide free samples of their beers if someone purchased a tour of their facilities. This hampered economic growth for not only breweries, but the tourism industry in the state as well. Since the passing of HB1322, Mississippi has begun reaping the benefits of the new law.
Since the change, breweries across Mississippi have expanded taprooms or moved to larger locations to allow more space for people to enjoy their products. On any given weekend you can walk into a taproom and find live music, food trucks, and new beer releases. Weekly trivia competitions have repeat customers frequenting taprooms.
Recently, Natchez Brewing Company held a fundraising event for the Mississippi Brewers Guild to celebrate the anniversary of the law change. People from across the state and some from Louisiana celebrated with live music, a new beer release, and a pig roast. This family friendly event would not have happened without the legislative efforts of the Mississippi Brewers Guild.
Natchez Brewing Company as well as others have allowed their breweries to be a place where families can spend the afternoon. Doing so helps to increase attendance to planned events.
In response to the family friendly environment, Lisa Miller, co-owner of Natchez Brewing Company said, “We’ve tried to create a family friendly space where parents can enjoy a beer or two with their friends and not have to leave their children at home or find babysitters.” This approach allowed for an extremely successful celebration.
The law change has also allowed for breweries to branch out to brew more specialized small batch beers. These beers are typically only available to those who frequent taprooms; however, some breweries may decide to package these beers and hold special release parties to promote them. These events draw in not only locals and those from across Mississippi, but those from other states as well. Special release events have created a group of followers from across the region who travel to these respective breweries to try to snag the latest offerings.
The passing of HB1322 has also opened the door for brewpubs. Unlike breweries, brewpubs can sell on site but cannot distribute their products. Some, although not required by state law, serve food and other beverages for customers to enjoy. Cottonwood Public House in Vicksburg is the home of Key City Brewing Company. Zack Erickson, owner and brewmaster of Key City, feels that without this law change they wouldn’t have seen the level of success they have.
“The passing of HB1322 allows us to sell our beer to-go. It gives our beer a chance to travel and be experienced by friends and family who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy it,” said Erickson.
The on-site sales law has been a game changer for Mississippi. The state is seeing economic and tourism growth that it would not have seen without it. New breweries are in planning mode. Existing breweries are growing. Mississippi beer is being put on the map. Talented Mississippi brewers are being recognized. People are excited to drink Mississippi beer.
(Photos courtesy Natchez Brewing Company.)