It occurred to me today that I’ve criminally overlooked a very important entity when it comes to the Southern brewing scene. I’ve double-checked the facts and scrolled through every column I’ve ever scribed for this publication. It’s time to extend my deepest apologies to Lazy Magnolia.
No idea how this oversight has happened. After all, it was me who, months ago, started the “Drink Like A Local” campaign showcasing what I hope becomes the “Southern brewing identity” our region certainly deserves. Lazy Magnolia has been at that forefront since 2005 but not without severe adversity.
Trying to become the first craft brewery in a state that enacted its own Prohibition thirteen years before it was made the law of the land, didn’t legalize alcohol production until 1966, is the most religious (read: teetotaler) and the most impoverished… well, there were factors piling up against the notion of making high-fallutin’ beer in Mississippi. Add to the mix a hurricane named Katrina that took out co-owners Mark and Leslie Henderson’s house and the uphill battle to brew made Sisyphus look successful in comparison.
Having already tried their ubiquitous Southern Pecan – the world’s first commercially-brewed ale with the hickory drupe – I made my way to the source back in 2011, stopping by the brewery to have a firkin cask filled for a special event at Hopjacks. Back then, they were more than happy to contract brew for other upstarts in the region; the memories of their own struggles a motivation to aid kindred spirits. While certain financial struggles persist, their product has now found its place in craft beer and has allowed the brewery to expand production and add a cavernous tasting room on site.
As an invited guest to this tasting room’s grand opening, I was able to try a couple of items special to the brewery like their amazing mead. I also re-acquainted myself with their fantastic Timber Beast and Jefferson Stout.
Aside from their Southern Pecan, I don’t think I’ve come across a beer that screams Southern ingredients like the Jefferson Stout. They wouldn’t tell me precisely how they did it, but they’ve incorporated sweet potato into this creamy milk stout. The unique nuttiness of the tubers works well with the caramel and chocolate malts while the lactose sugar boosts the sweetness to mellow out the coffee, milk chocolate and toffee notes.
And, no, Timber Beast doesn’t refer to Brett Favre; a fellow native of Kiln, MS. This bold, spicy rye double IPA Is a copper-hued glass of goodness! The right combo of hops give out everything an IPA fan looks for; pine, flowers, citrus and tropical fruit. The peppery bite of rye is faint underneath juicy flavors of pine resin, lemon rind and caramel malt.
Sorry to have not paid respect to Lazy Magnolia for so long! Then again, they’re accustomed to the world catching up to their greatness.