Joseph Bryant and Jessica Bryant browse the menu items at Mayhew Junction on Saturday afternoon. A recently-enacted law now allows the brewery to sell beer on-site. Joseph is a Mississippi State University alumni with a master's in microbiology and Jessica is currently finishing her doctorate in clinical psychology at MSU. Photo by: Sarah Dutton/Dispatch Staff
Chris Edwards, one of four owners of Mayhew Junction, serves their first pint of beer to Jonas Outlaw shortly after the 3 p.m. opening on a rainy Saturday. Edwards owns the business with three others, his wife Katy Edwards, Derek Irby, and Dr. Jean Mohammadi-Aragh Irby.
Photo by: Sarah Dutton/Dispatch Staff
Guests socialize and listen to live music at Mayhew Junction Saturday afternoon.
Photo by: Sarah Dutton/Dispatch Staff
July 1, 2017 10:02:19 PM
A new law took effect on Saturday that gave Mayhew Junction something to celebrate.
The craft brewery, located just off of Highway 12 in central Starkville, held an event from 3-8 p.m. to celebrate the enacting of House Bill 1322. The law allows craft breweries that make less than 60,000 barrels per year to sell beer and light wine that's produced on-site. Breweries can sell whichever is less, between 10 percent of their production or 1,500 barrels.
The law also allows small craft breweries to sell up to two cases (576 ounces) of beer per day to an individual for off-site consumption.
"Up until this point, breweries in Mississippi have been able to provide samples with a tour, but were not allowed to sell any of our beer on-site," said Jean Mohammadi-Aragh, one of Mayhew Junction's owners. "We sell to our distributor, Clark Beverages in Starkville. They buy and distribute to restaurants. It's a wonderful relationship, but sometimes it would be useful to be able to sell beer and get direct feedback from people."
Mayhew Junction is co-owned by Mohammadi-Aragh and her husband, Derek Irby, and Chris and Katy Edwards.
Ibry said the brewery expects to produce 60-80 barrels of beer this year, depending on the type of beer and demand. Mayhew Junction's beer is primarily distributed in Starkville. The brewery is seeing increased distribution to Columbus, with light distribution to other north Mississippi cities.
Chris said the law change will let the brewery sell pints and "crowlers" -- 32-ounch cans -- to customers. The law change isn't just good for Mayhew Junction, Chris said, but for breweries across the state.
"It'll help breweries make a little bit of additional money and to help us stay open," he said.
Irby said Mayhew Junction's owners hadn't expected to be able to sell their beer for a long time.
A bill similar to HB1322 was killed in committee last year.
Edwards said the change will be particularly beneficial for Mississippi State University football and baseball weekends, which draw visiting fans to Starkville. Some of those fans tend to visit the brewery, and selling to them could help spread the brewery's name, he said.
"It's going to be huge for us," he said. "We've had a pretty good showing from of the grad school students -- some of the vet school students had their graduation party here. As those people move up, it's really good. What we haven't been able to do up to now is the people who come for football and baseball -- now when they come in, try the beer, take some of it home and share that. I think it's really going to give an opportunity to spread the name around and let people sample really widely."
Mayhew Junction formed in 2014, and Mohammadi-Aragh said this month marks the one-year anniversary of the brewery distributing its beer. The brewery has offered tours and samples, and Mohammadi-Aragh said it will continue to do so.
"The new thing is that on the tour before, you could only do up to six six-ounce samples," she said. "Now we're going to let you exchange (tickets) for a pint. Now you can purchase an additional pint or two. We'll have crowlers available for people to buy and take home."
Hundreds of people packed Mayhew Junction as it opened on Saturday.
For Starkville residents Brien and Amanda Henry, who have been to the brewery a few times before, Saturday was reason to be excited for the brewery.
"It's real exciting," Brien said. "You see them working hard with their product in different restaurants. I think this will add another layer of profitability for them."
Brien added that on-site sales for Mayhew Junction aren't only good for the brewery, but for Starkville and its image as a college town.
"We've seen a nice improvement in the last 15 years," he said. "This is another step to help embrace that college aspect."
Shannon Thurston, of Huntsville, Alabama, came to Starkville on Saturday for Mayhew Junction's event. Thurston said Alabama enacted a similar law two or three years ago that's proved tremendously beneficial for the local brewery scene in the state.
Thurston, a Mississippi State University alumnus with family in Columbus, said he thinks the law change is great for Starkville.
"Where we're at in Huntsville, we had two breweries," he said. "Since they changed the law, we've got 12 or 13, and they all have unique styles and things about them.
"Some breweries in Alabama have reached as far north as Pennsylvania and others as far west as Colorado," he added. "It's about exposure, and laws like this allow it to happen."
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