Employees maneuver forklifts around the climate-controlled warehouses, where it looks like children have been building really tall box forts out of colorful cardboard. And come spring, there will be even more room to make really tall stacks.
The United State’s beer market saw $109.5 billion in overall sales in 2015 (a growth of 0.2 percent over 2014). Hattiesburg and the Greater Pine Belt area are doing their part to keep those numbers on the up and up.
Long gone are the days when Stokes Distributing was working out of an an old house behind Economy Supply in Downtown Hattiesburg. During that time Stokes was distributing about 60 different packages from five suppliers. Today, their inventory consists of approximately 1,000 different brands and packages from 60 different suppliers.
Stokes also has other locations in Laurel, Natchez and McComb.
Southern Prohibition Brewing also began with a home brewer, Quinby Chunn, who grew up in Texas and followed his parents, David and Diana Chunn, to Hattiesburg.
Emily Curry, the company’s sales and marketing coordinator, said Quinby Chunn fell in love with homebrewing.
The Pine Belt beer scene has been active in Hattiesburg and Laurel, not only because of the number of drinking-age customers around the community colleges and universities in the area.
The recent establishment of successful microbreweries has pushed the social aspect of drinking beer to the spotlight in local restaurants and taverns. Slowboat Brewing of Laurel and Southern Prohibition Brewing Company of Hattiesburg have reached customers throughout Mississippi and beyond its borders.
On Saturday, June 11, Downtown Hattiesburg will host brewery representatives from throughout Mississippi, the South and even from across the United States.
“The Hattiesburg Craft Beer Festival showcases Hattiesburg, and especially Downtown, as a hot spot for the craft beer movement,” said Andrea Saffle, director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. “Festival attendees can enjoy downtown before and after the event, and also meet many of our downtown partners inside the event as well.”