Our earliest appointment so far was at 9 am on Wednesday, 3/12/14 with Midnight Brewery, who we met after slamming down some coffee and making our way from downtown Richmond over to Rockville. Upon our arrival, we spoke with brewer Becky Rudolf and owner Trae Cairns who told us that “We have a passion for craft beer and really take the beer personally. If somebody doesn’t like it, I want to know why. If people love it, that’s great, but if they don’t like it, I want to know why. To me, that’s really an extension of our craft, and when you find a beer that people like, you stick with it.”
Our final brewery visit in Asheville was on Tuesday, 2/25/14 to the first and longest standing brewery in the area, Highland Brewing Company. The brewery originally started in 1994 in the basement of Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria in the heart of Asheville and their first beer was the Gaelic Ale. For a few years, Highland was only sold on tap through kegs at Barley’s, but started gaining popularity fairly quickly. We got to speak with Asheville native and employee of Highland, Drew Stevenson, while we were there, and he informed us that downtown started to really get refurbished in the late 80s / early 90s just before Highland began brewing their first beer.
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.
On the morning of 1/14/14 we packed up our gear and headed east from San Antonio to Conroe, TX which is about 40 miles north of Houston. There we enjoyed an afternoon touring the facilities of Southern Star Brewing Company and speaking with head brewer Sam Wright. We began in the spacious new taproom which is just across the loading docks from the 10,000 square foot brewing space. The taproom is separated from additional storage space in the warehouse by a massive wall of empty cans waiting for their run through the canning line.