Brewery opening in downtown Biloxi pushes for law change

Brewery opening in downtown Biloxi pushes for law change

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For more than 20 years, Mark Cowley has brewed his own beer from home. Just over a year ago, he and three other craft beer makers created the Biloxi Brewing Company.

"In our original business plan we were going to do 500 barrels the first year," Cowley said. "We've already more than doubled that just in our first year."

Since starting the company, Cowley's beers have been brewed and bottled by Lazy Magnolia. With the recent purchase of an old pharmaceutical drug warehouse on Bohn St. in Biloxi, Cowley will be able to handle the entire operation out of the building.

Once the brewery is up and running later, Cowley plans to offer tours. However, a Mississippi prevents beer from being sold where it's manufactured.

"Almost every brewery I go to, the number one question I hear people ask when they're getting ready to leave is can we buy some beer to go," Cowley said. "Right now we have to say no."

The Mississippi Brewer's Guild took their case to the state legislature earlier in 2016, but the bill failed to make it out of committee. But, that hasn't stopped Cowley from continuing to push legislators to allow craft beer sales at breweries.

"Allowing us to sell a limited amount of product from our own brewery will allow us to put money back into our company, which will allow us to expand our company," Cowley said. "Which means then we have to hire more employees and it's a win, win for everybody."

Cowley says if he didn't think the law was going to change, he wouldn't have invested in the downtown Biloxi property. Though the earliest the law can change is in the 2017 legislative session.

"We're gambling on the fact that, yes, we will get this law passed," Cowley added.

In 2016, Alabama passed a law allowing brewery's to sell their product, making Mississippi and Georgia the only states that don't allow it.

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