craft beer

Hops in Heaven: Biloxi Brewing in Biloxi, Miss.

Like many other microbrewery owners, Mark Cowley started as a homebrewer before seeking investors and opening his own brewery.  However, unlike a lot of American homebrewers, Mark got his start in England while serving in the U.S. Air Force during the 1990s when craft breweries were exploding onto the scene across the pond.  Eventually after a transfer to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and following his retirement as a weather forecaster for the Air Force, Mark finally opened Biloxi Brewing Company.

The story behind the brewery’s location is also quite compelling, but let’s start with what people see when they arrive at the brewery.

Exterior of the building.

Usually a door doesn’t merit a closeup view, but the artwork with the brewery’s logo and text on this door deserve a bit more attention.  So I took a close up to show it off.

Front door to the brewery.

The taproom opened in January, but only on July 1 did it begin selling beer on premise because of a change in Mississippi law (read more here).  Like many breweries, it took time for Mark and his investors to settle on a location for the taproom.  The discovery was almost incidental, as his wife’s cousin asked her about an old building that her uncle owned.  After visiting and exploring the space, Mark knew the team had found it’s taproom and brewing space.  The building used to house Professional Drug Company, serving as the company’s warehouse.

With the building previously housing a warehouse there was a lot of space, which is quite evident with the setup in the brewing and storage space.  In fact, there is so much room in the production area that the brewery hosted q local chamber of commerce meeting in mid-July.

Keg storage in the production area.

However, most visitors aren’t exploring the production area.  Visitors can still get a tour of the facility, but now that the law has changed the brewery only offers tours on Saturdays.  The taproom portion of the brewery is quite extensive as well.  You can get a feel for the space with the following pictures.

Margaret setting up some snacks.

As the first people to arrive after its opening, my wife and I were greeted by Mark and his wife Margaret, who was setting up the popcorn machine and setting up the retail side of the brewery.

A set of high-top tables with unique keg-inspired seats.

A view of the bar top with a glimpse into the production area while Mark pours a beer.

With the bar in mind, my wife Katie and I sampled all of the beers available on draft (see full list here).  While getting a tour of the brewing and storage area, I had a pint of Salt Dog, which is the brewery’s base gose.  Sours beers don’t work for everybody’s taste buds, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I also prefer lighter beers like a gose during the summer heat.  I also tried Biloxi Blonde, which despite its name is not a Belgian blonde, but instead is a kölsch.  For people new to craft beer, it is an excellent introductory beer.  Black Gold is an export stout, and while not something I would typically drink during the summer it was quite good.  I finished with Pelican Pier, which is a blood orange gose.  I had sampled’s Katie’s pint and liked it so much that I opted to order it and take it with me as we headed to a Biloxi Shuckers game at MGM Park.

In most cases people wouldn’t be allowed to take a beer with them when leaving a brewery, but Biloxi Brewing Co. sits in one of Biloxi two entertainment districts, which allows patrons to leave a bar or restaurant with a to-go cup. So Katie and I both left with a pint of Pelican Pier.  We also returned the next day to get a growler filled with Pelican Pier, which was by far our favorite offering.  The brewery is located within downtown Biloxi’s historic district about a half a mile from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, which means it’s convenient for people visiting the casinos to get a great local beer.

With the law changes, there are changes in store for the taproom, too.  Mark says he hopes to install a nitro tap for Black Gold, and to create a barrel area in the front corner of the brewery in the vault that was originally stored narcotics.  It seems that the forecast is calling for a bright future for Biloxi Brewing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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