On 1/22/14 we said goodbye to New Orleans and Louisiana and made another trip across Lake Pontchartrain and into Mississippi to tour Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in the city of Kiln. We met with Robert Purvis who walked us around the facilities and explained the brewery’s history and approach. Lazy Magnolia was founded in 2003 by engineers, Mark and Leslie Henderson. After receiving encouragement for their home-brewed creations the couple formed a consulting company Labor Day Weekend 2003 with plans of opening the first packaging brewery in the state of Mississippi since prohibition and with a focus on providing southern inspired brews. Production began in early 2005 with a 15 bbl brewhouse in a small room and a single beer offering – still their most popular – Southern Pecan nut brown ale made with whole roasted pecans, currently sourced from Mascot Pecan Shelling Co. in GA, added directly to the mash. The logo was originally based off of a painting done by Mark of a ‘lazy magnolia’, a term he used for the late blooming magnolia trees providing shade for the couple’s back porch.
After years of steady growth, the company now has 27 employees and produces over 15,000 bbl/yr and upgraded to their 60 bbl brewhouse in 2012. They contract brew for several other breweries in the south and have utilized the larger brewhouse to expand distribution to 16 states throughout the southeast. Robert showed us the new 15,000 sq ft expansion which is now under construction. They currently house two 240 bbl fermenters outside while awaiting completion of the new facilities and have more on order. In addition, they hope to someday utilize a portion of the additional space for a taproom. Needless to say, the upcoming years will see extreme growth for Lazy Magnolia’s productive capacity. Currently, about 58% of production is available in kegs with the remainder distributed in bottles, including their variety 12 pack. The bottling line requires 5 employees to operate and can push through 2 bottles every 3 seconds on a 12 valve filler, located in a separately ventilated cold space, leading to about 10 pallets or 20,000 bottles per day.
At this time, recipes are created by brewmaster Leslie, who entered the American Brewers Guild Brewing School with an internship at New Orleans’ Crescent City Brewhouse in preparation for opening the brewery, and brewer Willie Brown. Willie got the job after winning the 2009 Outlaw Homebrewing Competition in Hattiesburg, MS (outlaw because homebrewing was illegal in Mississippi until July 1, 2013) with the recipe that is now distributed as Southern Hops’pitality and contains amply aroma of tropical fruit. The job offer was actually the advertised prize for first place. Other Lazy Magnolia beers include the Jefferson Stout sweet potato cream stout, made with real flaked sweet potatoes and lactose. Southern Gold, only available outside of kegs in the mix 12 pack, is a honey ale brewed with locally sourced gall berry honey from Mark’s uncle’s bee farm. The Timber beast rye IPA and Indian Summer wheat ale with orange peel and coriander complete the year round beers.
Seasonals include the Lazy Saison (Spring), Backwoods Belgian (Summer) golden ale with Honeysuckle flowers, the Robert Johnson inspired Me & the Dev-Ale strong ale (Fall), and Black Creek southern style imperial stout (Winter) which Robert advised ages very well for several years. Also available are barrel aged versions of the Southern Pecan – Southern Gentleman is whiskey barrel aged and Southern Belle is aged in Pinot Noir barrels.
Lazy Magnolia First Fridays are monthly parties thrown from 5-9pm on the first Friday of the month where the brewery partners with a variety of local charities. Spent grain and yeast is also saved and shared with the local farmers for cattle feed. Family friendly tours are offered Thurs and Fri 4, 5, and 6pm and Sat at 11am, Noon, 1, 2, 3, and 4pm for an admission cost of $10 that includes up to 6 complimentary beer samples. We recommend a visit to sample some beer from Mississippi’s oldest brewery and keep an eye on the progress with the expansion. Thank you to Robert for showing us around, the staff for being so welcoming, and especially to Keith for making Michael’s day by letting him dump hops into the boil.
Author: Brandon Wurtz