Local brewer disappointed beer bills die in legislature
Published 12:03 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016
NATCHEZ — Bills designed to support craft beer brewers in Mississippi died in state senate and house committees Tuesday.
The bills, HB 846 and SB 2744, would have allowed craft beer breweries to sell a limited amount of beer directly from the brewery facility.
Currently, Mississippi is one of only a few states to forbid breweries from selling any of their own beer.
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The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee did not vote on the bills before the deadline passed Tuesday, effectively killing the issue for the current legislative session.
Mississippi Brewers Guild attorney Matthew McLaughlin, who wrote the bills, said the consumer advocacy group Raise Your Pints introduced the concepts in 2012 and 2014, but this year’s failed attempt was the first attempt at legislation led by a group representing the manufacturers.
Both previous attempts also died in committee.
“I think we have told a compelling story over the last two years to try and educate people on the importance of this industry,” McLaughlin said. “These are real manufacturing jobs and dollars and the people who operate in this state operate at a competitive disadvantage to breweries and alcohol manufacturers both in Mississippi and outside of the state.”
Natchez Brewing Company head brewer Patrick Miller said the bill would have been helpful to his business.
“For us, because we’re a heavily tourist town, we have a lot of people who come off the boats and ask for a six pack so they can bring something back with them,” Miller said.
Though he is able to offer small samples as part of a brewery tour, he is not able to sell packages of the beer he makes out of the brewery directly.
“It’s just money lost all around,” Miller said. “Those folks coming in and out would be a big financial benefit to us. It would allow us to hire more people and grow our business.”
Miller said the bill would have allowed him to compete financially with breweries from out of state that sell beer in Mississippi.
“They’re making more money than we are and selling their beer in Mississippi, so we’re at a complete disadvantage,” Miller said.