Oxford to consider cold beer in stores

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens
Daily Journal

OXFORD – An Oxford merchant will ask the Board of Aldermen to legalize cold beer. While restaurants may serve such beverages chilled, stores are prohibited from refrigerating it.

Attorney Dee Hobbs will address the board Tuesday on behalf of Craddock Oil Company, which operates a Circle K convenience store on Highway 6 West.

“Oxford went wet during the ’60s after Prohibition, and that ordinance has been in place ever since,” he said.

“When you already have cold wine for sale … there’s no public safety argument that you can give,” Hobbs said. “My clients have cold beer in every town they serve but this one.”

One possible insight into the requirement’s original intent is that until 1984, Mississippi law authorized people from 18 to 21 to drink beer but not wine or spirits. One theory is that having to ice down their beer would give some college students time to get home before popping a top.

At least one Oxford business, the now-defunct Beer Barn, legally offered its customers cold beer – albeit only in frigid weather – by stacking cases alongside its outdoor drive-through lane.

If April’s municipal election forum was any indication, the measure may find official support. In answer to a question posed during the forum, each candidate for alderman either supported or declined to oppose legalizing cold beer sales.

Challenger Jay Hughes, who won the Ward 1 alderman seat, quipped, “I have never heard a group of people who weren’t German ask their friends for hot beer.”

Even Ward 4 Alderman Ulysses Howell, a perennial opponent of most measures to loosen drinking laws, indicated he wouldn’t oppose it as long as it did not affect the ban on Sunday sales.
New Ward 2 Alderman Robyn Tannehill said Friday that she supports the idea.

“We’re already selling beer, and being able to purchase it cold is just a service to our residents and visitors,” she said. “To me, it’s a common-sense issue.”

Even with strong support, any action would likely take several weeks to implement.

errol.castens@journalinc.com