With 62 miles of sculpted white beaches, an endless variety of fresh Gulf seafood, and French Colonial glamour in spades, the Mississippi Gulf Coast remains one the South’s under-appreciated gems. That’s not to say it’s undiscovered. Each fall thousands of classic cars and tens of thousands of visitors gather here for America’s Largest Block Party known as Cruisin’ The Coast. Throw in the longest running blues festival in the Deep South, dozens of award-winning golf courses, and a scattering of casinos, and Gulfport’s got the makings of a great weekend destination.
With entertainment for days, what more could you want?
Beer. You want beer. Craft beer to be precise. Luckily, the legal max alcohol content jumped from 6.25% ABV to 10.1% ABV in 2012 allowing Mississippi’s burgeoning craft brew scene to gain traction. As Mississippi’s second largest city, Gulfport makes the ideal launching point to explore coastal craft breweries within minutes of each other.
Chandeleur Island Brewing Company – 2711 14th Street Gulfport
Named after the owners’ and hometown brewers’ favorite fishing spot, Chandeleur Island Brewing Company set up shop just a few blocks from the beach in downtown Gulfport. At 8,000 square foot, Chandy’s historic downtown building offers a superb spot for both locals and visitors to catch a band, swap fishing tales, and of course, relish a cold, hand-crafted brew.
Such as their regular favorite, Freemason. Named after another nearby barrier island known for it’s wade fishing, Freemason’s light bodied, creamy feel makes for easy drinking, especially on coastal hot summer days. Speaking of hot summer days, it doesn’t get much more tropical than H90 Surf Side Pineapple Wheat. With an expert balance of sweet pineapple, German hops spiciness, and smooth wheat, this tropical beer satisfies a need for an umbrella drink without compromising the man-card.
Biloxi Brewing Company – 186 Bohn Street, Biloxi
If sour beers are your thing, then this is your place. Four of their eight taps consist of sours, such as their Salty Dog, the premier brew in their Coastal Life Series. Brewed with sea salt and crafted after the ancient German Gose style, this unfiltered wheat beer bursts with hops and coriander to round off the saltiness. Designed to combat the coast’s sultry summers, their Biloxi Pale Ale’s bright grapefruit aroma and flavor won over the palates of the people at the 2016 Top of the Hops Beer Fest, earning them the People’s Choice Award.
Incubated through Lazy Magnolia, down the road in Kiln, until the completion of their facility, Biloxi Brewing now resides slightly off the main strip but within blocks of the casinos. Since debuting in 2014, Biloxi Brewing steadily continues to expand as their brews are found all along the coast, into neighboring states, and north towards Jackson.
Crooked Letter Brewing – 503 Porter Avenue, Ocean Springs
Just a little further east over the bay and you’ll find yourself in Ocean Springs, home of Crooked Letter Brewing Company. Recently relocated to a larger, more accommodating location, Crooked Letter Brewing not only boasts a staggering array of craft brews in numerous styles, but they also offer a full bar with a tavern menu. Guests can enjoy their addictive Chicken Crack, spicy Fried Beef Filet Bites, or their savory Brats on Bun at the bar or on the patio under the live oaks and string lights.
Instead of trying to decide on one of their 16 brews on tap, build a tasting flight. Like a sampling of the malty Amber Ale, the earthy Stabello Pale Ale, the creamy Milk Stout, or my personal favorite, the Mystery Romp. This dark, rich ale smells like heavenly vanilla espresso and tastes like strong and smooth black coffee.
With an ever-growing beer scene and more breweries dotting the coast, it looks like I’ll need to make a return trip for further research. Darn the luck.
Suggestions and/or recommendations, anyone?