For this week’s “Tuesdays on Tap” post (a tradition we plan to be more consistent with this time around), I’d like to tell you about some interesting Mississippi brews.
You may remember that when we traveled to Mississippi recently we decided to bring along provisions since our previous experience had been that good craft beer was pretty scarce down there. I have to tell you that we were pleased to discover not one, but two Mississippi breweries with offerings we really enjoyed.
Truth be told, our provisions were gone in about
two three days. Hey…we shared. It wasn’t all us. We don’t drink that much. So, as we still had 9 more days to go in the Magnolia State, we had to go in search of replenishments. While in Jackson, we found Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan and Timber Beast at the local Kroger. We had hopes of getting our hands on their Jefferson Stout (a sweet potato cream stout) and Southern Hops’pitality (a traditional IPA) as well, but couldn’t seem to locate those.
The Southern Pecan is a lightly hopped caramelly nut brown ale that, according to Lazy Magnolia’s website is the first beer in the world brewed with pecans. While in MS, I had it bottled at my in-laws house and on draught at three different locations. Both delicious, but the draught was obviously my favorite. It became my go-to Mississippi brew.
The Timber Beast is an Imperial Rye IPA which is the first in Lazy Magnolia’s “Back Porch Series.” The name of this series sounds special and interesting, but I have yet to find a definition of what all it actually entails. If I ever get down to the brewery in Kiln, MS I’ll have to ask. Whatever it is, it got this brew a Beer Advocate rating of 90 (exceptional) and at 9% it was actually illegal to brew, own or distribute in Mississippi until last summer. Being an Imperial Rye IPA, this one was more The Mr’s style…or so you’d think. But more on that later!
While out and about in the Brandon area one evening we decided to pop into the local Mellow Mushroom as we were jonesing for a draught and we knew the Mellow Mushroom would have a good selection. We were pleased to find that a new Mississippi brewery, Lucky Town Brewing Co (from Gluckstadt, MS) had a selection tapped there – their Ballistic Blonde.
It’s a Belgian Style Blonde Ale that clocks in around 5.1% with notes of banana and spice. It was very refreshing, the kind of beer you want to drink outside on a warm summer evening. Since February in Mississippi ranges in temps from 40-73 degrees (I was drinking it on a 68 degree February day), you are pretty much good to drink it year round down there. Lucky Town is apparently a newly opened brewery (so much so that it doesn’t appear to have an open tap room yet) and currently only has two offerings – the Ballistic Blonde and the Flare Incident Oatmeal Stout. (Lucky Town folks, if you read this and I’m wrong, please correct me. We’d sure love to visit the next time we are down that way.)
Later that week we made the pilgrimage north to God’s country – Oxford, MS. (Aw, I miss it…) While in OxVegas, we were pleased to have more opportunities to enjoy these local brews. I mentioned that I washed down my City Grocery Shrimp and Grits with a Timber Beast.
I’ve stated time and time again that The Mr is the IPA fan in the family. But, I knew from my Beer and Cheese pairing class at NoDa last October that I can really enjoy an IPA with the right smoky gouda. I have the recipe for City Grocery’s Shrimp and Grits and, while it doesn’t include gouda, I knew that it included parmesan and extra-sharp white cheddar cheeses and had enough of a smokey quality that I would more than enjoy a hoppy Timber Beast with it. I was right. The bite of the Timber Beast beautifully balanced the spice and smoke of the Shrimp and Grits for me. It was a perfect pairing.
A couple days later I discovered that Oxford’s new-to-me-Cajun-dive, Irie on the Square, had Lucky Town’s Flare Incident tapped. My research told me that this was an oatmeal stout, which I knew would be right up my alley. The Mr offered to go start us a tab while I got a table and caught up with old friends. When I asked him to get me a Flare Incident, I assumed that it wouldn’t be necessary to specify that I only wanted a pint. I was wrong. This is what I was brought…
If you haven’t inferred from context, let me clarify. The vat-o-beer on the right is what he brought me. Sadly, this was our third stop of the evening, so I didn’t have the capacity for 32 extra ounces of beer. (What was he thinking?!?) I barely made a dent in this maple syrup laced baby. But, what I did drink, I very much enjoyed. I’m looking forward to encountering this Incident again…albeit it in a somewhat smaller delivery vehicle.
The reason that finding these great local craft beers in Mississippi is so amazing is that, until last July, it was illegal to sell or possess beer that contained more than 5% alcohol. From our experience, though, you were lucky if you could even locate any beers that weighed in over 3.2%, much less find a 5%-er. That also meant that Lazy Magnolia (the only Mississippi brewery that existed until recently) couldn’t even make higher gravity beers to distribute in other states. Thanks to the hard work of grass roots organizations like Raise Your Pints Mississippi the governor signed the craft beer bill into law on April 9, 2012 making “brews that are up to 8 percent alcohol by weight, or 10 percent by volume” legal in Mississippi as of July 1, 2012. This was our first trip back since the law changed and, boy, did it make going home that much better.
(Side note – the grass roots efforts are now working on initiatives to legalize home brewing the Magnolia State.)
So, Mississippi, let’s raise you pints! Here’s to keeping those 3.2′s in the rearview mirror!