I recently paid a visit to the Mississippi and Louisiana brewers guilds. Here is the latest from these two states!
First stop was to join the Mississippi Brewers Guild (MBG) member meeting at Chandeleur Brewing Company in Gulfport.
There are currently 10 breweries in Mississippi. Laws are so restrictive in Mississippi that this number may not grow, depending on current legislation. Not for lack of interest, passion or effort, but for lack of ability to just sell beer.
MBG introduced legislation in 2016 (HB 846) to modernize the state’s beer laws. The bill will allow Mississippi breweries the right to sell beer directly to customers at the brewery, which is legal in 48 other states. Mississippi is ranked last, for their small brewing industry’s economic impact. A few communities put in RFPs for the regional breweries looking to build eastern U.S. facilities, which later landed in other states. When the regional breweries took their business, and hundreds of jobs elsewhere, legislators paid attention to the loss. This year will be the best chance for this legislation to pass, as it is now an economic development and tourism issue.
As MBG Lobbyist, Matthew McLaughlin says, “Mississippi has no operational brewpubs and has the fewest number of breweries per capita of any state. This only happens when there are structural deficiencies that make such businesses unprofitable. This isn’t a market problem; new breweries come to Mississippi every year to sell beer to our citizens.”
Mississippi’s HB 846 will create jobs, increase tourism, and help these local manufacturers grow their business more quickly. MBG has a long uphill battle to modernize the state, but their collaborative and resolute efforts are no less than extraordinary.
The next day, the road brought me to Covington for the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild (LCBG) meeting hosted by Abita Brewing Company. There are now 20 breweries in the state and the guild has 17 members. The state’s industry is also experiencing steady growth, and by the end of 2016, the guilds estimates there will likely be around 24 breweries.
LCBG has many projects in the works, but fundraising is at the forefront of all. The guild hopes to host a couple small fundraising events this year to support organizational growth and other initiatives.
The guild also intends to take advantage of the BA’s new grant funds for hiring an executive director in 2016. LCBG members recognize that guild staff will ensure the necessary time is being spent managing the day-to-day organizational tasks, as well as insulating small brewers from retribution by taking the arrows on legislative pursuits.
The community of brewers in Louisiana are thriving and working together with steadfast and strategic progression. With its concerted members, 15 breweries in planning and a thirsty market, the LCBG is driving each day to elevate the Louisiana brewing industry.