Now here’s something to raise a toast to!
Two men have tapped into the growing popularity of craft beer and have started the newest taproom for DeSoto County, specifically to market the product. Mississippi Ale House has opened in the last month and the owners say the early response to their presence has been good.
“A lot of people have come in and said that Olive Branch needed something like this,” said co-owner Derric Curran, who with Alistair Clark operate Mississippi Ale House at 9211 Highway 178. “That means a lot. That means that it wasn’t just a crazy idea that we had out of boredom. It’s not only something that we needed, but that the community needed.”
“We had one guy come in and tell us that this place was better than any Memphis bar he’d ever been in,” added co-owner Alistair Clark. “That made my night. I prefer this to be called a taproom, because a bar insinuates a lesser quality.”
It also means that Mississippi Ale House won’t be flowing with just one type of beer taste. Craft beer has become popular because of the way brewers can be creative in how they produce the liquid refreshment.
“It allows you to be experimental,” Clark said. “Where a domestic brand has got a set standard for their top three beers, craft beer allows that brewery to experiment and try something different.”
The industry has also grown in competitiveness as it has grown in popularity, Clark said.
“For instance, if you go to your Kroger aisle, it’s taken over more than half of the beer section,” Clark said. “Domestics have been pushed off to the lower third there on the end. People have begun realizing that beer doesn’t have to taste the same.”
Latest industry statistics from the Brewers Association show a 12.3 percent volume share for craft beer in 2016, up from 5.7 percent in 2011. Of 5,301 total operating breweries in the United States last year, 5,234 of those were craft breweries, compared to just 67 domestic or other types of breweries.
The number of brewpubs has also grown, with an 11 percent increase last year over 2015 and a corresponding 21 percent increase in craft microbrewpubs last year over the year before.
At Mississippi Ale House, the selection will be ever changing due to the many types and varieties, but Clark and Curran said they plan to especially highlight beers made in Mississippi, hence the name.
“We try to feature Mississippi beers,” Curran said.” We went to six breweries in south Mississippi and tasted beer that wasn’t up here. We wanted to showcase Mississippi beer, because nowhere else will you find Biloxi and you’re not going to find Natchez.”
One of the beers featured is called “Mighty Miss,” which is served nowhere else outside of its brewery in Greenville. Other beers from outside the state served in Olive Branch are rare beers that are difficult to find elsewhere.
The presence of Mississippi Ale House in Olive Branch means those who enjoy stopping into a place and enjoying a glass of brew won’t have to travel to Cooper-Young or other Memphis locations to do that, Clark said, while admitting the successful Memphis business model there will also benefit their place in Olive Branch.
Mississippi Ale House is located at 9211 Highway 178 in Olive Branch. Hours are from 3-9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and it is closed Sunday and Monday. Find Mississippi Ale House on Facebook or call 901-483-8869 for more information.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.