Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co., the state’s pioneering brewery, will concentrate on its eight-state market in 2013 after a growth spurt into three Southeastern states this year.
The brewery, the first in the state since Prohibition, also will expand its warehouse footprint from 10,000 square feet to nearly 30,000 square feet as it gears up to produce more barrels of beer each year.
“Next year we are going to focus on our current markets and try to drive organic growth there,” said spokesman Tobie Baker.
Lazy Magnolia, founded by Mark and Leslie Henderson in 2003, produced its first beer in early 2005 and will turn eight on Jan. 20. Leslie Henderson is the brew master.
The labels now are sold in bars, restaurants and retailers in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina.
In 2005, the Hendersons brewed 600 barrels and gradually grew to 14,900 in 2012.
Next year the total is expected to be 19,500 barrels, increasing year by year to a projected 55,694 barrels in 2017.
Brewing is done Monday through Friday by 24 employees. Baker said with the ongoing expansion, employment will nearly double over the next four years.
In November, two 60,000-pound grain silos were installed for the new 60-barrel brew house that quadrupled brewing capacity over the summer. A new taproom where visitors can taste the Lazy Magnolia products is part of the ongoing expansion.
“Every brewery goes through a flat spot during an expansion, and delayed delivery of new equipment definitely set us behind this mid-year,” said Mark Henderson. “Unfortunately, the process of expansion is just that difficult. It is a huge hurdle — surviving it is success in itself. “
Henderson said access to capital continues to be the fundamental limit to Lazy Magnolia’s growth.
“People sometimes forget that we produce locally, but have to compete globally. That competition means that we have to invest large sums of money in equipment, in scale, in capacity, in compliance, and in infrastructure. Those investments consume dollars, and in return provide good high paying jobs,” Henderson said.
Two recent changes to state law have benefited the brewers. One allows higher alcohol content, from 6 percent to 10 percent, and another permits sampling of beer at the brewery.
“The changes that the Legislature made last year have greatly increased the awareness of craft beer in Mississippi,” Mark Henderson said. “We are seeing new breweries opening up all around us, and we are seeing more and more Mississippians choosing local and craft ahead of other beers. It is an exciting time to be a Mississippian.”
Timber Beast is Lazy Magnolia’s first high-alcohol product and Baker said it’s now second in sales behind Southern Pecan, the flagship beer.
Timber Beast is named for Butch Bailey, a forester and founding president of the grass roots campaign Raise Your Pints that worked to modernize Mississippi’s beer laws.
Fans of the Kiln-based brewery will get to taste a bit of France and Belgium and some stronger beers next year when the seasonal brews are rolled out about every three months.
The spring seasonal will be a Lazy Saison French-style of beer from Belgium to be released in late February or early March. Summer’s seasonal beer, as yet unnamed, will be a Honeysuckle Belgian pale ale, to be released in late May or shortly after that.
An American strong ale pay tribute to the Mississippi Delta blues when it is released in late August or early September. Winter will feature an Imperial stout.
“Both the fall and winter seasonal beers will be additions to our Back Porch series, joining Timber Beast,” Baker said. “They will be 7.5 percent alcohol by volume and Imperial will be 10 percent.”
The Back Porch series consists of Lazy Magnolia’s high-alcohol beers. All its other beers are 6 percent or less and considered the Front Porch series.
Baker jokingly explained the difference in the series: “It means with the lower alcohol you can sit on front porch and don’t care if your neighbors see you. With the high alcohol you may want to sit on your back porch because you may not want your neighbors to see you.”
Tours of Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. are conducted Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The 45-minute educational tours give a little bit of history and a little bit of science, according to company spokesman Tobie Baker.
Tours are $10 for six samples and a pint glass.
Family-friendly tours with kids and no sampling are free. Designated drivers can tour for free also, Baker said.
>>CONTINUE READING Lazy Magnolia recycles grains back to the farm
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