Believe it or not, the great state of Mississippi has only one brewery, and it didn’t get there until about 2004, just before the first batch of Mississippi-brewed beer rolled out of the Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in March of 2005. For those of us who enjoy craft beer, this seems a bit sad, but hey, at least their first is a craft brewery, right? It’s actually a great sign that a state which for so long had no brewery finally sprang into action with a craft brewery!
The Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company was founded by Mark and Leslie Henderson. Born and raised in Mississippi, the couple met in college and moved to the Gulf Coast in 2000 to pursue careers in engineering. The first steps toward the founding of Lazy Magnolia occurred one Christmas when Leslie bought Mark a homebrewing kit because she couldn't think of anything else to get him. We’ve all been there, right? You don’t know what to get someone, so you give something that YOU want, and hope for the best.
Mark only got to brew one batch of beer before Leslie took over the “brewing operations,” leaving Mark to put his engineering skills to work designing new equipment, tools, and gizmos to enhance the homebrewing process. It didn't take long for this hobby to take over their house and all of their free time. “We were brewing twice every weekend, and we were giving away almost everything that we brewed to friends,” laments Leslie. The house was completely overtaken with 5-gallon glass jugs, copper heat exchangers, and bubbling buckets of beer as they refined their recipes.
Family and friends were so impressed with these homemade creations that they encouraged the couple to go pro; many even offered to invest in such a venture. So Mark and Leslie started doing some serious research to answer basic questions about the legal status of breweries in Mississippi (there were none at that point) and the potential market in the state for specialty beer. Much to their surprise, all answers came back positive. The time seemed ripe for Mississippi to join the rest of the nation in the craft beer revolution.
A building was secured in September 2004 and the brewing equipment was delivered in October and fully set-up by December. The dream became a reality in January 2005, when the first batch of beer was brewed on the Lazy Magnolia system. Barely up and running, Hurricane Katrina hit, briefly shutting down operations and sadly, destroying the couples’ home, but the beer was flowing again by October.
For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call (228) 467-2727 or check out their web site at www.lazymagnolia.com