Whole world not changing, but the world of beer is

Published 11:10 pm Saturday, June 30, 2012

The five-year effort by Raise Your Pints Mississippi became reality today. And the world is still spinning.

The grassroots, all-volunteer organization did the impossible — changed the alcohol laws in Mississippi. The House and Senate OK’d and the governor signed in April the legislation that will increase the allowable alcohol content in beer from 5 percent by weight to 8 percent by weight.

Alcohol in beverages is calculated two ways — by weight and volume. Mississippi calculates alcohol by weight in beverages, while most of the rest of the country — and printed on most bottles of beer — is alcohol by volume. Eight percent by weight converts to about 10.1 percent by volume.

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But what does it mean for the residents here?

If you do not drink beer, this will have no effect on you.

For the common-day ice cold beer drinkers, nothing will change. Miller Lite will still be Miller Lite and Budweiser will remain Bud. The change will affect those in the craft beer world, and those changes will be slow.

At first, craft breweries that already distribute here — Lazy Magnolia and Yazoo, for example — will be able to expand their selections. Breweries that do not currently distribute here slowly will join the market.

Dry counties will remain dry. Thirty-six counties in Mississippi have laws prohibiting alcohol, and they will remain on the books.

Now for the prediction: The notion of, “Now they can get drunker faster” will not be realized. Anyone 21 or older may enter a liquor store and buy alcohol at 85 to 90 percent and there seems to be no problem with those drinkers.

Craft beers are heavier, more expensive offerings not suited for those “wanting to get drunker quicker.” If someone is hell-bent on the intoxicants alone, that person will certainly buy liquor or cheaper, easier-to-drink beer.

The intoxicants are down the list of craft beer drinkers, who smell and sip, taste and savor the complexities of a craft beer. Although the four ingredients do not change — hops, barley, yeast and water — the styles and concoctions are almost limitless.

The world will not end today because Mississippi’s beer laws changed. It will just expand a choice consumers of a legal product have been denied for decades.

So, cheers, everyone! Enjoy all that is new — responsibly, of course.