In 1919, the 18th Amendment was ratified, establishing Prohibition in the United States. A little over a decade later, the 21st Amendment ended this national Prohibition, giving the states absolute control over their laws concerning alcoholic beverages. In the years since the passage of the 21st Amendment, states have changed the laws regarding wine, beer and liquor at widely differing rates. For example, Mississippi remained “dry” until 1966, Kansas had a ban on public bars until 1987, and Georgia prohibited beer with above 6% ABW until just 2004. In fact, as of today 49 states have no outright bans on beer based on ABW (or alcohol by weight).
Unfortunately, one state still has a complete ban on beer over a certain ABW. In Mississippi, it is illegal to purchase or import beer with an ABW higher than 5%. This doesn’t cause too many problems for the big brewers like Budweiser, Miller, and the like – most of their beers are well below the limit. Craft brewers and foreign brewers, however, tend to brew beers with a little more zhush.
In fact, more than 90% of the world’s beer is illegal in Mississippi. Most of the beer on Beer Advocate’s list of the top 100 brews in the world are illegal in Mississippi. 19 of the 22 beers brewed by Brews + Books favorite Dogfish Head are off limits in the state. And most beers brewed in some stellar styles – barleywines, bocks, imperial stouts (or imperial anything) and Belgian dubbels, tripels and strongs – can’t be found in the state.
Raise Your Pints is “a grassroots, non-profit organization whose mission is to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Mississippi.” Their mission is;
…to promote and enhance craft beer culture in Mississippi by working to lift the ban on high gravity beer; clarify the status of homebrewing as a legal, fun, and wholesome hobby; promote Mississippi’s beer, brewpub, and brewing industries and small businesses; and work to broaden the appreciation of craft beer for all Mississippians.
Raise Your Pints is pushing to modernize the archaic beer laws in Mississippi and allow craft brewers and brewpubs to flourish in their state. Although Mississippi is a long way from Maine, I’m happy to voice my support for the organization. Every bit of good will and support helps, so please check out the RYO Twitter, blog, Facebook group and website and let them know that you’re behind them.