Lazy Magnolia Blossom's Blooming, Head's All Empty & I Don't Care...
Friday felt like I was coming down the homestretch. I had left Florida and was headed back west towards New Orleans, and I only had two more shows left in this run before heading home for a break: Saturday at Southern Craft in Baton Rouge, and tonight at Lazy Magnolia in Kiln, Mississippi. Driving partially along US 10 and partially along the beach roads, it felt like I was rewinding a tape... passing back through all the towns and beaches that I came through heading east.
Lazy Magnolia has a big reputation that precedes her. When I announced these dates everyone seemed to be familiar with this brewery's beers, and once I got into the Gulf region it was definitely a name that when mentioned got a lot of acknowledgement.... and with good reason.
Lazy Magnolia - Kiln, MS
Lazy Magnolia's beer is available in 24 states and several countries. Use this link to find their beer near you.
Lazy Magnolia has been around for almost 20 years, although due to Mississippi laws being a little late to come around on brewery issues, the tap room has only been open for a short time. In that time, the brewery has certainly covered a lot of ground and made some history, while launching some legendary brands. Their primary claim to fame is their Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, which was the world's first nut brown ale made from pecans, and has won them all sorts of awards, global and otherwise. Their Southern Hops'pitality IPA is probably another label you'd recognize, and you're likely to find in your area, as Lazy Magnolia distributes in 24 states and several countries.
Despite the history and scale of their footprint, you'd never guess it when you pull up at their location in Kiln, Mississippi. Kiln is a small coastal town just east of New Orleans, and the brewery is a bit off the beaten path, quietly hidden surrounded by a small airstrip and some Coast Guard buildings on one side, and a huge campus of the local high school, middle school, and school administration buildings on the other. When you pull into the area looking for a brewery, between the schools and the military/air field buildings you really don't feel like you're in an area where drinking would be allowed, much less encouraged... but then you make a turn and right there in the middle of this strange combination of buildings is what looks like a little nano-sized taproom, with only a handful of parking spaces out from.
When I entered the parking lot I thought I was going to be playing the smallest room of the tour, and that didn't change much when I walked into the tap room. The ceiling was high, much like a warehouse, etc... and there was the bar on one side, a good number of tables, and a modest stage area made of old wooden pallets and lit with Christmas lights. Very cozy, but not at all hinting at what a large operation was lurking behind the curtain...
I needed to use the restroom, and per the restroom sign, followed a yellow path painted on the floor through a set of doors and into a HUGE brewing facility. Considering the proximity to the air field and the size of the building, and the high ceiling, I now wondered if this wasn't in fact a converted airplane hanger... and then I spotted the airplane hanging from the ceiling! See the photos of the brewing facility, plane, etc. below
With it being Good Friday and the weather looking rather threatening outside, we wondered what kind of crowd we'd get. When you're right on the Gulf coast, threatening looking weather is a rather scary thing... they get storms down here like no other place else I've been.... and I've been through hurricanes, tornados, etc. The crowd was good sized, and then thinned about towards the end of the night.
Obviously being in the house of such a legend, I had to start with the Southern Pecan (4.5%) Nut Brown Ale. I love nut brown ales, although you don't find them around so much these days, so it's always a treat to find a good one, much less an historic one. This one is mahogany in color, with a lighter head. Compared to other nut brown ales, it drinks a bit lighter and is noticeably dryer, which I assume is a result of it being brewed with whole pecans and being light on hops. It's very crisp and refreshing, and not overpowering from a sweetness standpoing (I'm not sure why, maybe because of the pie, but for some reason I was a little worried it was going to be a sweet beer, and it's not). There are hints at malty and caramel flavors and of course a nuttiness, but I have to say the nuttiness is rather subdued and something you need to search a bit for... it is NOT seriously nutty like a peanut butter brew, etc. If I weren't aware of the pecan angle, I think I would still detect something nutty going on, but otherwise would just consider it to be a somewhat light nut brown ale. Easily drinkable, and I'd definitely say sessionable. There's a reason it's done so well for them, and there you have it!
The next brew I sampled was the Belgian Tripel (9%). With a pretty strong hoppy aroma and a hopped flavor that leaned more towards the tropical fruity and less towards the spiced end of things that you might expect in a Belgian, it took me a few sips to really wrap my head around this beer. At 9% it packed a punch, and was pretty heavily hopped, but not obnoxiously so. I have to say I'm not a big fan of whatever that Belgian spiced thing is (I can never figure out what that taste reminds me of), so I didn't really miss that aspect of it, and really was rather pleased it was missing. That said, I could see where those weird people that actually like Belgian wheats and such might not be happy with the beer lacking in that department. It wasn't my favorite beer, but it wasn't bad, either.
Jeez Louise (5.5%) was an interesting beer. An IPA with Hatch chilis, I might not ordinarily have even tried this one, as many of the peppered beers I've had are simply overpowered by the peppers, but honestly the fact that NOLA's Boil Advisory looked so awful on paper and tasted so fantastic inspired me to take a chance on Jeez Louise. And it was good. Much to my surprise, the chili pepper was in there, but not terribly dominant, so we end up with a very good IPA with just the right about of chili to make it interesting. I mentioned this experience, as well as the Boil Advisory, to the Southern Craft folks on Saturday, to which they responded by pouring me a habanero ale, which I sipped and couldn't drink (their other beers were very good, though, so check out the next blog about them...)
Southern Hops'pitality (5.5%) is another of theirs that I was pretty sure I had had before. An American/session IPA, this is a highly enjoyable and drinkable session beer that is in my opinion among the best it its class. Dry hopped and with a healthy dose of tropical floral and citrus fruity tones, yet crisp and clean on the back end so you're not left with a heavy bitter or sappy aftertaste. Crisp and clean.
Riley and Trish were manning the bar and were very helpful in my selections, and Trish and I had a good discussion of the breweries of North Carolina, as she had just recently relocated from there to Mississippi. At the end of the night they sent me off with a tallboy can of the Southern Pecan, which I enjoyed back at the hotel, and was still delicious right out of the can.
Lazy Magnolia was just further proof that you can't just judge places by their storefronts or view from the curb, as sometimes you open that front door on the modest facade only to find a huge, bustling operation inside. Lazy Magnolia is doing something right, as their huge distribution footprint indidates, and I'll look forward to coming back sometime to see how the local following is growing for the taproom.
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