After spending the night camping at Flint Creek Campgrounds in Wiggins, MS, we made our way up to Southern Prohibition Brewing (SoPro) in Hattiesburg on Thursday, 1/23/2014. At one time the brewery was housed inside Keg & Barrel less than 5 miles away, but after Mississippi ABV laws changed in 2012, the owner, Quinby Chunn, decided to move the brewery into a separate facility and bought the trademark of the name from John Neal at Keg & Barrel.
We were greeted by their sales manager, Emily Curry, who told us that the day we were visiting Quinby was actually talking to legislators on Capitol Hill with other members of the Mississippi Brewers Guild trying to get taproom laws changed. Currently SoPro and other breweries in the state are unable to have a taproom or sell beers on premise, so the hope is to get laws changed in order for them to be able to open up a taproom. They were also held back on getting some of their labels approved last year when the government shutdown, but they’re good to go now and have a couple new cans they are ready to introduce to the market. Each of those cans have artwork that resembles old horror movie posters, as well as their merchandise and other artwork found throughout the brewery. Furthermore, all of their tap handles are hand-made by a local metalworker.
Southern Prohibition is the first brewery we’ve been to where the grain room is actually located on the second floor and uses gravity to transfer the cracked grains into the mash tun on the first floor. While in the grain room we noticed a few of their ingredients, including chocolate malt from Chile as well as Munich Type II. We spoke to Tyler (one of the brewers) in the grain room who told us that he used to brew up in Iowa with his twin brother until he joined the National Guard and came down to Mississippi. He said that they use two-row as a base grain in all of their recipes, excluding an ESB they are about to release which will use Maris Otter.
Ben Green, the head brewer at SoPro who was born in Hattiesburg, also spoke with us and informed us that all of their beers are unique to the brewery, although some of them were built off of recipes they had back at Keg & Barrel. Ben worked together with Quinby to make their most popular beer known as Suzy B – an easy drinking dirty blonde with a pinch of wheat available all year in 4 packs of 16oz cans, which is also the only beer in their current assortment that is not dry-hopped. The second brew introduced to the market in cans was a recipe of Ben’s called Devil’s Harvest Extra Pale Ale, and is a true flavor hop bomb with four hop additions. Within the next few weeks (if not by the time this article is published) they will be releasing the Mississippi Fire Ant Imperial Red Ale in cans as well (and no, they do not milk fire ants or use them in any way to make the beer). The final addition to their canning line is going to be reserved for their Cicada series – seasonal releases which will all be packaged in the same can in cycles. Two of the seasonals were on draft while we were there, which we luckily got to sample. First was the Hipster Breakfast Stout – a winter seasonal oatmeal stout that is almost out of season. Hipster will be phased out soon and replaced with an ESB named Jack the Sipper. We also got to try their 2014 IPA which is only being brewed this year using their current hop contract and will be replaced by a whole new IPA in 2015.
Although they do not have an official taproom, they do offer tours for $4 every Friday from 4 – 6pm and give you six complimentary 6oz samples of their beer. You can only find their beer in the state of Mississippi right now, but they are looking to expand into the New Orleans market soon. The brewery has worked with organizations like the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association and Extra Table, so be sure to head over to the brewery to support them. Big thanks to the whole SoPro crew for hanging out with us while we were there; it was a blast!
Author: Michael Roberts