Sweet, Sweet Beer


 By TOM RAMSEY

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“I’d kill everyone in this room for one drop of sweet, sweet beer.” —Homer Simpson
#Mississippi was the last state in the United States to fully allow the sale of alcohol. The state repealed prohibition in 1966, 46 years after the U.S. nullified it, and then only in a confusing patchwork of “wet” and “dry” counties and cities. But “intoxicating liquors” had been illegal in Mississippi since 1907, 13 years before the Volstead Act was fully ratified. Because of this and other factors, including the enormous influence of teetotaling church communities, Mississippi never really developed a beer-brewing history. A few local breweries operated along the river and on the Coast, but for the most part, the beers consumed in Mississippi came into the state by truck, rail and barge.
Craft Beer stats
  • Overall beer sales in the U.S. fell by 1.3 percent from 2010 to 2011 while craft beer sales in the US increased by 9.1 percent in the same time period.
  • Craft brewers sold an estimated 11,468,152 barrels (1 barrel=31 U.S. gallons) of beer in 2011, up from 10,133,571 in 2010.
  • Craft brewers currently provide an estimated 103,585 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs.
  • Craft beer sales have grown from less than 1 percent of the market in 2000 to over 5 percent in 2011 and are expected to exceed 10 percent by 2016.
#Source: The U.S. Brewers Association
#The “golden age” of American breweries lasted from the 1880s to 1910. During the first part of this gilded time, Mississippi was still in shambles, putting itself back together after the Civil War and Reconstruction. By the end of the brewery boom, Mississippi was officially dry. So, when Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company sold its first keg a century after the golden age, it didn’t signify the resurgence of brewing in Mississippi as much as the birth of the industry here.
#What Mississippi missed out on during the golden age was a time when the number of American breweries peaked at more than 3,000, brought on by the huge influx of European immigrants setting up local breweries and making small-batch beers in the style of their homelands. Over the next few decades, with the advent of refrigeration and the proliferation of railroad lines, the largest breweries either purchased the smaller ones to meet demand or simply outperformed them in such a way that made it difficult or impossible for the little guys to compete with the monsters that became Anheuser-Bush, Miller, Schlitz and Coors.
#The nail in the small brewer’s coffin came in January of 1919 with the passage of prohibition. Only the biggest survived by turning their breweries into factories and making “near beer,” or beer with low to no alcohol. However, craft beer has experienced a resurgence in recent decades, and many say we are now in our second golden age with more than 1,500 breweries operating in the United States. Sure, the brewing behemoths still have the bulk of the business, but all of the growth in the industry is coming from the little guys making impressive beer. Now, at last, Mississippi gets to play along with the rest of the yard.

Top 20 Beer-consuming states in the USA

State Gallons Per Year/Per Capita
Nevada 44
New Hampshire 43.4
North Dakota 41.7
Montana 41.5
South Dakota 39
Wisconsin 38.2
New Mexico 37.8
Texas 37.4
Louisiana 37.1
South Carolina 37
Kentucky 36.8
Nebraska 36.6
Arizona 36.4