by Kae Lani Palmisano for USA TODAY 10Best

Prohibition-era laws can't stop Gulf Coast breweries

According to the Brewers’ Association, it wasn’t until November 2015 – 82 years after Prohibition ended – that the number of breweries in the United States finally returned to pre-Prohibition levels.

Once the 21st Amendment passed, many brewers across the United States were back in business. But in some states along the Gulf Coast, antiquated Prohibition-era laws were still lingering on the books, making brewing a challenge.

"Breweries were allowed [in Alabama], but they weren’t allowed to make beers over 6% ABV."

- Ryan Schamberger, owner of Big Beach Brewing in Gulf Shores, Alabama which opened in October 2016

It wasn’t until 2009, when a grassroots organization called "Free the Hops" was able to overturn the law, that the maximum alcoholic volume of beer increased to 13.9%.

Image courtesy of Big Beach Brewing Company

"At one point, we weren’t allowed to promote ourselves outside of just packaged beer that could be bought at a grocery store."

- Krickett Schmidt-Racca, Marketing & Special Events Manager of Crying Eagle Brewery in Lake Charles, Louisiana

That law has been overturned in recent years, allowing Louisiana breweries to advertise.

Image courtesy of Crying Eagle Brewing Company

In Mississippi, the laws were so unclear that it was assumed breweries of any kind were illegal. That is until 2003 when Mark Henderson, owner of Lazy Magnolia brewery in Kiln, Mississippi, read through all of the state codes – twice.

"I couldn’t find anything. Everyone kept telling me 'Yeah, you can’t do that. That’s illegal in Mississippi.' And I would ask them to show me where it says that in the code. And they’d tell me that I had to talk to somebody else."

-Mark Henderson

A trail of phone calls lead to the realization that beer is actually regulated by Mississippi’s tax commission. So after getting approval, in January 2005, Henderson and his wife, Leslie Henderson, opened Mississippi’s first modern brewery.

Image courtesy of Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company

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