Pine Belt breweries celebrate beer sales

Pine Belt breweries celebrate beer sales
Source: WDAM

Breweries and beer drinkers in the Pine Belt are "hoppy" a new state law is in effect.

"It's a good day for Mississippi in the breweries and beer drinkers," said Matt Roberts after purchasing beer at Slowboat Brewing Company in Laurel.

House Bill 1322 was signed into a law during the legislative session and went into effect July 1, 2017.  The bill allows small craft breweries that produce less than 60,00 barrels of product to sell directly to the consumer.  Sales are limited to the equivalent of  two cases per customer per day.

"We have already had a really good reception from the community and beer tourists from out of town," said Carrie Mann, co-owner of the Slowboat Brewing Company.  "We hope once they can come and purchase beer instead of just samples, they will stay longer and bring more friends and really just enjoy themselves."

Slowboat Brewing Company opened it's doors early Saturday morning to celebrate the new law.  Mann said they opened at 7 a.m., offering breakfast with beer sales, and will stay open until 2 a.m. Sunday.

Matt Roberts said he wasn't introduced into the craft beer scene until about six months ago and is now "fascinated."

"Went to bed extra early so I could get up and get our nice craft beer," said Roberts.  "I believe it's going to get bigger and better. There's only one way to go and that's up."

In Hattiesburg, Southern Prohibition started working on it's taproom and a new outdoor space when HB 1322 was signed by Governor Phil Bryant.

"We knew that we still had a lot of work to do, but we were really excited," said Head Brewer Ben Green.  "We had been working towards this for a really long time and it was just really exciting for it to all fall into place."

Southern Prohibition opened it's doors Saturday at 12 p.m.  The goal was to have the first beer sale by 12:01 p.m.

"We're elated, we are very excited," said Green.  "The turnouts been great and it's a little crazy in here right now."

The taproom was full of customers around 12:30 p.m., with people standing in lines wrapping around the bar to buy beer or a case to bring home.  Southern Prohibition brewed a new beer, the "Selfie Destruct," specifically for July 1st.

Green said this new law will help the economy and growth of craft breweries in the state.

"When you get to put a product with a face, you can educate your consumer," said Green.  "That's one of the reasons Mississippi is further behind, people don't know about craft beer. This is a perfect platform to educate people, do smaller releases and really special stuff and kind of build the community up as well."

According to the Mississippi Brewers Guild, there are currently nine craft breweries across the state. Charlene Williams said she expects to see more in the future.

"I think we are on track now to compete with the state's around us," Williams said.  "I think it's a fantastic way for Mississippi to really put ourselves on the map."