By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Mississippi’s new law that raised the legal alcohol content of beer is giving rise to a new specialty store, enabling an Oxford resident to make a living in his hometown.
Joe’s Craft Beers is slated to open Monday in the Oxford Market on West Jackson Avenue.
Joey Vaughan decided to open the store after the legal alcohol content for beer rose July 1, allowing merchants to sell specialty brews previously unavailable in Mississippi.
“I’m planning to carry everything I can get my hands on. It’s more than 100 styles. If a distributor has it, I’ll carry it,” he said. “The goal is to have the best available selection in the area.”
The typical craft-beer customer, Vaughan said, is “somebody who is interested in … beer with more flavor and more character – generally young, educated folks who appreciate finer food and drink.”
Craft beverages already in his inventory include blueberry and pumpkin ales from Portland, Maine-based Shipyard and several varieties from Rogue Brewing in Newport, Ore. Vaughan notes, however, that he’ll also carry familiar brands and styles.
“You ignore the light lager market at your own peril,” he said.
Vaughan’s enthusiasm for exotic beers led him to home brewing and later attending the nation’s oldest brewing school, the Siebel Institute of Technology. For the past two years he worked as a professional brewer in Memphis.
“It’s fun, but it’s a long commute,” he said. “The beer law change provided a perfect opportunity for me to open this store.”
Vaughan views the new beverage bill as an economic development initiative.
“The more expensive beers are going to mean more taxes collected, and I’ll be hiring people, providing jobs,” he said. The change will mean out-of-state visitors no longer need be so disappointed at the local selection of brews, he added.
Some grocery stores and convenience stores carry a few of the high-gravity beers, but Vaughan sees Bikini Beer on College Hill Road as the only business with offerings that can compare to Joe’s Craft Beers.
“This town is big enough for two stores,” he said.