*Note: I apologize for the delayed nature of this posting but Crooked Letter had some pretty exciting news to share and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. Due to the recent ice storms, the official launch event was delayed by a couple weeks. Read more below.*
After our short deviation from I-10 visiting Southern Prohibition in Hattiesburg, we jumped back on the road and headed down south towards the Gulf Coast. Ocean Springs, MS is just a couple miles east of Biloxi and has served as home to Crooked Letter Brewing Company (get it? M-I-crooked letter-crook…oh nevermind, apparently some people didn’t get taught to spell that way) since it was opened in November 2012 by Paul and Wanda Blacksmith, who were turned onto homebrewing by their longtime friend, John Meyers. John and Paul have been best friends since they met as kids skateboarding the MS coast and the brewery’s name pays homage a band name, Krookid Ledder Youth, which John came up with about 18 years ago. When Wanda entered the fold, the three played in bands together over the years including most recently as Winterset. After much time away in college and graduate school, John returned to south MS and became their head brewer. Following a couple expansions during their first year, Wanda’s brother, Scott Mitchell was also hired onto the brewing team. Wanda serves as the company’s CEO, co-owner, brewer, and also as Treasurer for the Mississippi Brewers Guild while Paul is co-owner, brewer and handles day to day operations as the General Manager.
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.
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.