Many wines still banned after new law

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, August 16, 2012

New state beer laws mean beer that contains 8 percent alcohol by weight is legal in Brookhaven, but wine containing more than 5 percent alcohol by weight remains barred.

     A state law that went into effect July 1 raised the alcohol content allowed in beer from 5 percent by weight to 8 percent alcohol by weight.

     The Mississippi Department of Alcoholic Beverage control makes a distinction between “beer” and “alcoholic beverages.”

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     Therefore, although Lincoln County is dry, Brookhaven may allow the sale and possession of beer. The city had to revise its beer ordinance in July to reflect new state laws.

     Department of Revenue Spokesperson Kathy Waterbury further explained that some light wines are regulated like beer. This means wines of less than 5 percent alcohol by weight are legal in Brookhaven and may be sold like beer.

     But the increase to 8 percent beer does not affect the types of wines that may be legally sold in Brookhaven.

     “The changes only affected malt beverages,” said Waterbury, explaining that wine still can’t exceed 5 percent by weight in municipalities where only beer is legal.

     Beverages considered “alcoholic” remain barred in Brookhaven regardless of the alcohol content.

     Waterbury said she’s fielded some questions about the laws from local municipalities, but said beer wholesalers have answered most questions at the local levels.

     Grocery and convenience stores can’t purchase any products from wholesalers unless they’ve been cleared by state regulators.

     “Wholesalers cannot receive any products to distribute to the local level unless we have approved them,” Waterbury said.

     Causing further potential confusion, there is a distinction between measuring the alcoholic content by weight and by volume. The by volume measurement is often the one used on products sold in stores.

     Waterbury said 8 percent alcohol content by weight is roughly equivalent to 10 percent by volume.