Lucas Simmons began making his own beer in 2004 while working as an engineer at Nissan in Canton where a co-worker began showing him the hops and barley ropes in their spare time.
Fast forward a decade and Simmons is now a part time engineer – part time artist – and full-time brewmaster for Lucky Town Brewing Company, located a stone’s throw from Fondren in Midtown Jackson.
With their beer in mass production out of state and already on tap locally, a part time gaggle of beer enthusiasts — Simmons, Brandon “Bigs” Blackledge, Chip Jones and Angela Ray — took up shop in a spacious, renovated Greyhound service building in 2014. Founded as Lucky Town just three years earlier, Jackson’s only microbrewery is experiencing explosive growth since their grand opening last November.
“The biggest thing right now is expanding the canning process,” said Simmons over a pint of their latest concoction, a just released salty sour dubbed “Gose Gamblin.” Bolstered by volunteer weekend labor, the canning fun fizzles out quickly and keeping part timers is a regular challenge. “Keeping staffed to keep growing is where we face our ups and downs.”
Now that Lucky Town is sending their Pub Ale and Ballistic Blonde in cans outside the Jackson market, they’re finally catching up to have fun with more one-off and seasonal brews like last spring’s Brew of O’Tux: Charity Red for the Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade and the Saison de Zoo for Zoo Brew.
Locals seem to love the product that flows from 1710 North Mill Street. Simmons credits The Clarion Ledger and Find It In Fondrenâ„¢ for helping to get the word out and create a fresh buzz. “We were doing well before the move to town with draft sells but they blew up,” he enthusiastically noted. “Now, people realize there is brewery in town and that makes you feel good — that Jackson wants a local brewery, so I hope they keep coming to see us.”
Drinkers and diners will get the chance to try all five of Lucky Town’s current offerings — Ballistic Blonde, Pub Ale, Hop Fiasco, Flair Incident and Gose Gamblin’ — Monday night with a first-ever Sal & Mookie’s Lucky Town Beer Dinner ($60, reservations required). “We’ve not had enough beers brewing at the same time to have our own dinner until now,” Simmons said, noting sales representative Courtney Culpepper’s efforts to set up the five course pairing event. “We’ve done dinners with other Mississippi breweries there before and they are always enjoyable and the food is good.”
As he takes a last sip of the very beer he created, Simmons doesn’t have time to slow down and think about the dream he and his fellow Lucky Towners have built, though he tries. “Several Friday nights after tours, I stop at the door on my way out and look back, amazed at seeing a manufacturing plant I run, that I am part owner of and it’s an amazing feeling that’s been a long time coming. It’s ten times the work, but I love every second. To create a product where you see the person’s face light up when they try it — it makes 80 hour work weeks worth it, just to see it once. To keep seeing it over and over is great.”
An Oktoberfest is in the works, just in time for the season, with a planned release the second or third week of September. Of note, it was the first beer Simmons ever brewed in 2004.
Brewery tours are available most Fridays 4-7pm and Saturday s11am-3pm. The second Saturday of each month is Sippin’ Saturday with live music and food vendors.