Mississippi continues to expand beer selection

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Beer enthusiasts rejoice. On Jan. 12, D.G. Yuengling and Son, Inc. announced that the brewery will now distribute beer in Mississippi.

“For some reason there’s never been a distribution in Mississippi, but it’s always been a popular beer,” said Seminary resident Samuel Fairchild. “The larger is basically like a better Budweiser. I had always heard about it. People would always bring cases of it from Alabama, but I was never interested in it because I knew I could never get it in Mississippi.”

Previously, if a Mississippian wanted to drink Yuengling, he or she would have to cross the stateline to Alabama.

Ryan Kimball, Yuengling brand manager of Southern Beverage Company, said that the process to get Yuengling to Mississippi has been several years in the making.

“This was not something that just popped up in the last year,” Kimball said. “We knew there was an overwhelming desire for Yuengling in Mississippi. We worked very hard to sell the state of Mississippi and Southern Beverage to them.”

The 200-year-old brewery distributed exclusively to 17 states until Mississippi became the 18th. Yuengling and Son, Inc. currently has two manufacturing facilities in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and Tampa, which both contribute to a small distribution area.

Keg and Barrel owner John Neal said they could not produce enough to meet demand, so they built another brewery.

“So now they have two huge brew houses, and they can produce double or three times what they were producing,” Neal said. “The economics of beer—the more you can produce to sell, the larger your equipment is [and] the more efficient [they] are able to sell the beer at the same price as those larger breweries.”
Southern Beverage Company and Rex Distributing of Gulfport managed to prove the demand was high enough to distribute Yuengling in Mississippi. After Mississippi’s change in beer laws in 2012, distributers approached breweries such as Yuengling to expand the craft beer market. Kimball said that he believed Yuengling knew the demand was present.

“They could have gone to any state they wanted, but we made sure they knew just how high the demand for their brand was in Mississippi,” Kimball said. “At the end of the day, we are super pumped that they chose us to represent their brand throughout our footprint.”

The fifth-generation family- owned brewery produces several seasonal and staple beers, three of which are now available to purchase in Mississippi.

Yuengling appeals to purchasers in search of a quality craft beer at affordable price points. Fairchild said Yuengling is cheap and easy to drink.

“There’s three [types] that they have,” Fairchild said. “[Yuengling’s] light, lager and Black and Tan. I’ve gotten into the stouts more recently, and I can get the Black and Tan cheaper.”

Neal said that since Mississippi has updated its antiquated beer laws, it has helped bring in more craft beers.

“Raise Your Pints is the reason that we are seeing all of this growth in craft beers in Mississippi,” Neal said. “There’s craft beer bars opening, there’s breweries opening and it’s all because of Raise Your Pints.”

Raise Your Pints, a group with a mission to bring quality beers to Mississippi, campaigned for five years to raise the minimum alcohol content, until July 2012, when Mississippi passed Senate Bill 2878. The bill allowed Mississippians to sell and purchase beer with a higher alcohol content from the previous five percent to eight percent by weight, according to the group’s website.

Since the passing of Senate Bill 2878, the expansion of craft beers in Mississippi has grown. Mississippi’s thirst for craft beer came with a high demand to bring new brews to local restaurants and bars. Although it took several years, new laws and hard work from beer enthusiasts and distributors, Mississippians can now enjoy Yuengling.