Miss. law allows brewers to make stronger beer

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mississippi’s sole brewery will soon be able to make stronger beer to sell outside the state.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2370 into law Tuesday, which allows breweries to manufacture and sell beer with more than 8 percent alcohol by weight to states that allow sales of stronger beer.

Mark Henderson, co-owner of Mississippi’s only brewery, Lazy Magnolia, said the law will have major benefits to the Kiln business. Henderson said Lazy Magnolia will have the ability to serve as a contract brewer for companies that make beer with higher alcohol content. The brewery will also be able to expand their variety of beer offerings for sale outside the state, he said.

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Mississippi’s regulations on beer sales within the state will also change when a new law signed earlier in the session takes effect raising the ceiling on alcohol by weight from 5 to 8 percent.

Henderson said beers like India Pale Ale, or IPA, are difficult to brew with the current alcohol cap. IPA was originally manufactured to ship from England to India, according to Henderson, and was brewed to survive the journey.

“They needed a more rugged product, so they added more hops to survive the trip,” Henderson said. “But when hops are boiled, they become bitter, so they added more malt to balance the flavor with some sweetness. That raised the alcohol content.”

Henderson said IPA’s are among the most popular craft beers in the country, but Lazy Magnolia has not been able to produce a “world class” IPA because of the alcohol caps. Until now.

Raise Your Pints, a nonprofit group that has advocated for changes to Mississippi’s beer laws, said the new law will help bring more craft breweries to the state.

“I suspect within a year or two there will be a few more breweries opening up,” said Butch Bailey, Raise Your Pints president.

Both laws will go into effect July 1.