When I open my beer cabinet (yes, I have a cabinet dedicated to beer, don’t judge) I see bottles of Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Founders CBS, Founders Breakfast Stout, Dogfish Head Palo Santo Maron, and Dogfish Head Forte. There are others in there, of course, but I chose to name these ones because they all have something in common: they contain more than 5% alcohol by weight.
Hell, most of those are double that and some, like Forte, are more than triple. Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione bragged on Disovery’s Brewmasters, a reality TV show focused on his brewery, that his beers average more than 6% alcohol.
This is why I cry for the Magnolia State. Mississippi caps the allowed amount of alcohol in a beer at 5%. Five measly percent. By definition, that limits many Belgians, imperial stouts, and imperial IPAs, among many other styles, from being sold in Mississippi. By the calculations of Raise Your Pints, a grassroots organization dedicated to changing this ridiculous law (yes, I said ridiculous, it is certainly worthy of ridicule), it bans approximately 1/3 of beer styles from Mississippi.
Even worse, you can’t open a brewery in Mississippi if you brew a beer containing more than 5% alcohol. That explains why Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. is the state’s only commercial brewery. Who would want to brew under these totalitarian conditions?
But there is some hope for those poor Mississippians. Ok, so hope might be a strong word. It’s more like a glimmer of possibility to increase the allowed alcohol content to (drumroll please) 8%. Well, I guess it’s better than nothing. At least, they’ll be able to enjoy some of those imperials I mentioned.
But, hold on a second. Mississippians have no reason to get their hopes up. Did you catch that word proposed above? Yeah, the state government in Mississippi isn’t even sure they are going to consider it!
For the bill to even be considered, you see, it has to make it through the state Senate’s Financial Committee. In previous years, Finance Committee Chairman Dean Kirby prevented similar bills from even making it to the committee essentially stopping them in their tracks.
Man, it’s not sounding too good for Mississippi.
So here’s the semi-good news. The Financial Committee has a new Chairman, so it’s not guaranteed that he is going to block the bill. Then again, there’s no guarantee that he’ll allow it to enter committee, either.
As the Clarion Ledger reports, he’s been vague about the topic, saying he hasn’t read the bill and thus does not want to speculate on what route he would take.
Really. He doesn’t want to speculate on how he is going to handle a bill that would allow people to have the choice to sell, purchase, and consume beer containing more than 5% alcohol. He doesn’t know if he would even allow the committee to vote on it.
So that glimmer of hope I mentioned? It’s more like a speck. The Mississippi legislature is notoriously stubborn on this topic and even if the bill manages to make it through committee there is no reason to believe that a majority of the legislature would vote to pass it.
Truth is, if you have a passion for craft beer and you want to enjoy the diverse selection of brews with an ABW higher than 5% you need to get out of Mississippi. Move away from the teetotalers that run the government there. That’s your only solution.
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