Craft beer lovers in Mississippi took one step closer to higher-alcohol beer Monday with passage of Senate Bill 2878, which would raise the alcohol-by-weight limit from 5% to 8% in beer.
The bill, which has been pushed by grassroots group Raise Your Pints as well as Anheuser-Busch and its independent distributors in Mississippi, passed the Senate by a 38-14 margin. The state’s House of Representatives passed its own version of the ABW bill on March 1.
The next step, according to the Mississippi Business Journal, is “for whatever differences the two chambers have over the legislation to be ironed out in conference committee.”
This is big news for Raise Your Pints and other supporters of the craft beer movement. The bills in each chamber have received enough bipartisan support that there’s not much of a chance either of the bills will die in conference. Like Rep. Hank Zuber did in the House, Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, made the bill about tourism and economic development, not alcohol, when he presented it to the Senate. [source]
Horhn told the Associated Press that about 6,000 Mississippians who are gourmet beer consumers will benefit from the legislation.
Those who consider themselves connoisseurs are passionate about their beer, so much so that they drive outside the state to acquire beer.” That means lost tax revenue for the state and an unclear idea of how much beer is being consumed, Horhn said. He added the bill would only affect an estimated 16 brands of beer in the short term because the state’s laws only allow beer to be sold by select distributors. [source]
Mississippi is the only state that limits ABW for beer to just 5 percent, which in turns prohibits sales of about a third of the world’s beer styles. Raise Your Pints is also seeking to make homebrewing legal in the state, though homebrewing bills have not advanced in the legislature this session.
We’ll keep you updated on any more developments.