This is our second adventure into the little known universe of Mississippi craft beer, and we're proud to call ourselves storytelling pioneers for this state. The breweries of MS deserve more attention than they're currently getting, and their beer in genuinely delicious stuff. MS alcohol laws are stuck in the dark ages (a subject we hit on when we sat down with Lazy Magnolia), domestic giants like AB still have a stranglehold on the local beer economy, and yet...Lucky Town thrives. Lucky Town Brewing Company is the first, and only, brewery in Jackson, Mississippi. They've taken over the local craft scene in Mississippi's most populated area and don't show any signs of slowing down.
Address - 1710 N Mill St, Jackson, MS 39202
Founding date - November 11th, 2011
# of Employees - 0-10
Where can I find their beer? - Mississippi of course!
Tap Room Hours -
If you're coming from the north, you'll travel down Interstate 55 through the heart of MS in some of the greenest, muggiest, and most beautiful country around. Stay the course and you'll run straight into Jackson, which sits slightly southwest of the geographic center of the state. As Mississippi's only large metro area, you can find a good portion of the state's population in and around the Jackson area. Lucky Town Brewing Company, founded in 2011, is located just north of downtown Jackson in an artisan district called Midtown. Against relatively stacked odds, and with a great sense of humor to match, they've found success in a state where folks still haven't embraced great local beer in a substantive way. You'll find this to be a recurring theme in Mississippi, and the craft beer pioneers there are doing noble work to buck the domestic trend for a better, more local product.
During their first full year of production, Lucky Town made about 350 barrels of beer. Now in their second year of production, they're on track to make 2,400 barrels of beer. That is, by any measure, a huge amount of growth for a small craft brewing operation. And while the state hasn't glommed onto the craft caravan as quickly as other areas of our country, Lucky Town Brewing has found a market ready and willing to support its tasty products and exponential growth.
Lucas Simmons and Chip Jones, along with Angela Blackburn and Brandon Blacklidge, co-founded the brewery. Lucas and Chip met in college at Mississippi State University. Go Bulldogs. Lucas, a homebrewer-turned-professional, was an outlaw in Mississippi when he started. As we've now mentioned more than a few times, the legislation around alcohol production and distribution in MS is antiquated (ridiculous is the word), and you weren't even allowed to homebrew legally in 2004 when Lucas got started. It didn't take long for him to fall in love with great beer, and in 2010 he entered a large homebrew competition and won, leveling the field with the Oatmeal Stout that Lucky Town still makes today. Fast forward a year and he found himself having a conversation with Chip about starting a brewery in Jackson. They got a plan together, scraped up as much money as they could, and contract brewed their first barrels of beer in late 2012.
The Brew Enthusiast recently featured Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, the original craft pioneers in Mississippi. Mark and Leslie Henderson, the founders and owners of Lazy Magnolia, have supported craft brewing all over the state, and Chip was quick to mention the support and advice he's received from Mark over the years. Mark has, and continues, to go to bat for the state's craft industry, rallying against silly legislation and standing up for an industry that is bringing positive change to the economic and social situation there. As an example, brewpubs are allowed, but they can't distribute their beer outside of the brewpub (no to-go sales either). With these restrictions, it's tough to run a brewery operation while also running the bar/food side, which is why there are currently no Mississippi brewpubs in operation. There have been a handful over the past couple of decades, but none have survived.
Lucky Town originally contracted out of Alabama's Back Forty Beer Company's facility (Fun fact: Back Forty contracted out of Lazy Magnolia's brewery when they got started...small world) until they built their own brewery in Jackson in 2014. Since then, they've been cranking out a number of signature brews. Their stalwarts, including the Pub Ale (which is both a tasty treat and eminently crushable) and Ballistic Blonde, have been a hit in Mississippi and have helped drive the growth for the brewery over the past few years. Stylistically, the brewery jives with the atmosphere in Jackson, making highly approachable and uniquely flavorful beers. The Pub Ale was made for a friend's wedding, and it was such a hit that they started brewing it full time.
And seriously...they're the only brewery in a metro area that has almost 600,000 people. Compared with almost any other state in the country, this qualifies Jackson as a local beer desert. To illustrate our point, the immediate area around Burlington, Vermont has over 20 breweries in a population of barely 50,000 people. San Diego has approximately 1 zillion breweries for it's local population to sample from. And this explains why Chip was adamant about keeping his beer in Mississippi. Their growth, and it has been explosive, has been a direct result of Jackson's support, and Lucky Town isn't looking to go anywhere else until they saturate their local market. Admirable work for a crew of people who look like they're having way too much fun. We love it.
We'll say it again, but Mississippi is doing great things in beer, and Lucky Town is representing the state's budding craft community well. Chip and the crew love Mississippi and their brewery. The enthusiasm and energy grew with every word as he spoke with pride about the work they've got ahead of them, and how much they've accomplished so far. Keep an eye on these guys in the coming years as they continue to evolve, and make sure to try their beer next time you find yourself in Mississippi.
Published July, 2015