It's a brand that's carving its way across the nation. It's the 1st brewery in Mississippi since prohibition, producing 20,000 bottles of beer a day and growing. They're Lazy Magnolia Brewery on Made in Mississippi.
Lazy Magnolia owners Mark and Leslie Henderson said they began in Kiln, MS, in fall of 2003, and the idea came along by a matter of chance. Mark said, "She bought me a home brew kit for Christmas one year."
Following the first batch, Leslie took over as brew master and Mark began tinkering with equipment. The husband and wife putting their engineering degrees to good use. "Leslie came home one day and said I want to brew beer for a living," Mark said.
There hadn't been a brewery in Mississippi since prohibition, which made presenting a business plan challenging. "He laughed me out of the bank."
After working with the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Mark found out that it was actually not illegal to brew beer in Mississippi. The couple was off and running in a small 5,000 square foot corner of building with several small 500 gallon tanks for fermenting. So how do they brew their signature beers?
Mark said, "We make sugar water out of grain, we actually ferment grain into beer, and then we package that." Simple right? Not really.
The process begins with barley that has been malted, or barely germinated. Then the malt needs to get milled. "Break it apart into little bitty colonels so its like grits."
Barley can be roasted which mainly influences the color. The milling opens up the grain for the next step, which sends it through an auger to a vessel where the grain is mixed with hot water to extract the sugars.
Mark said, "We only want the sugar water. We don't want those spent grains, so that's the next vessel. This is the lauder ton. And we're in the process of taking the sugar water and now separating that out from the solids. And before we transition over this will become almost water clear."
Cleaning is one of the most important aspects for quality control, and making sure the beer tastes the same every time. "80% of what we do is cleaning and the other 20% is beating people to make sure we get it clean."
Once the majority of the grain is removed hops are added to cut the sweetness of the now wort. Mark said, "Hops are really kind of the spice of beer."
Temperature and pressure are closely monitored. Then the remaining solids from the hops and grain are filtered out.
Mark said, "And then we have a port at the very edge of the tank that we can siphon of at this point, clear, finished wort." The piping hot wort must be chilled using a large, water-cooled radiator of sorts. "We want to cool it off as fast as we can from 212 degrees down to a temperature that the yeast can actually survive."
As it's cooled the wort is pumped into either of the 13, 60-barrel fermenters. "We transfer beer into fermenters and we actually start with a small slug of yeast at the bottom of the tank."
The very important yeasts eat the sugars in the wort creating co2, alcohol, and a lot aromatics. The type of yeast and amount used greatly affects the finished product in the massive vessels. "There is approximately 20,000 servings of beer in each one of these tanks."
After the yeast to do their job, it's time for them to be filtered out and the beer packaged. Packaging is more work than brewing process, and just as important.
"How do you stabilize beer in the bottle? How do you make sure it taste one day one just like it does on day 90?" Removing the oxygen, adding additional Co2, dark glass bottles, and attention to detail have a lot to do with it.
Mark said, "We use a double pre-vac filler to make sure we get all the oxygen that we possibly can out of the bottle. It gets a cap on the backside there, and then they come off, and get loaded off and then off they go."
The bottles and kegs are boxed and or loaded on pallets, ready to be shipped and enjoyed by consumers in 10 states currently and 16 by the end of the year. Leslie Henderson said, "We want to export southern charm and hospitality."
They started with four varieties of beer and now have over a dozen. Demand for their craft beer has become so popular in the last 10 years that they're expanding to a larger facility right next door.