Crawdaddy

Thirsty? This House committee vote is for you

A bartender punches a beer card at Chandeleur Brewing Company in Gulfport. As it stands, craft breweries are allowed to conduct tours that include tastings but not sell their products on site.
A bartender punches a beer card at Chandeleur Brewing Company in Gulfport. As it stands, craft breweries are allowed to conduct tours that include tastings but not sell their products on site. nthurman@sunherald.com File

A bill that would allow craft breweries to sell their beers on site advanced from the Ways and Means Committee to the full House on Tuesday.

The breweries could not produce more than 60,000 barrels of light wine or beer and would be able to sell whichever is less — 10 percent or 1,500 barrels of their product — at the brewery. It also would allow brewpubs, which make beer that can only be consumed on their premises, to sell beer in growlers (a sealed container that holds up to 128 ounces) that could be consumed elsewhere. Breweries would be barred from selling between midnight and 7 a.m.

As it stands, craft breweries are allowed to conduct tours that include beer tastings but not sell their products on site.

The bill did get one change, apparently at the behest of larger breweries.

An amendment OK’d by the committee would allow a craft brewery that was purchased by a person or a larger brewery to continue to sell its beer wherever it was selling drafts, bottles or cans before the acquisition.

Rep. Scott DeLano of Biloxi, a supporter of the bill, said the original bill was worked out between the brewers and distributors in the state but he didn’t believe the amendment would undo it.

“Last year we couldn’t get everybody on the same page,” he said.

He credited Rep. Hank Zuber, R-Ocean Springs, with getting brewers and distributors to sit down and help craft a bill they could agree on.

“This issue has been vetted over the last several months by the association’s members who want to help the Mississippi craft brewers succeed and thrive while not causing any irreparable harm to the beer industry’s three-tier system,” said Ricky Brown, president of the Mississippi Beer Distributors Association last fall after the agreement was reached. “This is very favorable legislation for the state’s craft brewers in hopes for their continued success.”

Two proposals, one that would allow direct sales and shipments of wine and another that would allow liquors to sell other products except beer, apparently died after Ways and Means did not vote it out.

Paul Hampton: 228-896-2330, @JPaulHampton

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