Hattiesburg craft beer brewery closes
One of Hattiesburg’s two craft beer breweries has ceased operations.
HATTIESBURG – One of Hattiesburg’s two craft beer breweries has ceased operations.
Gordon Creek Brewery owner and brewer Sam Sorrells said Tuesday he made the decision to close the doors mainly because of financial reasons. The brewery, which is on East Pine Street, released its first batch of beer in May 2013.
“We had started the project with X amount of dollars, and like with most businesses, we had more going out than coming in initially,” Sorrells said. “Early on, sales were great, and it looked like we would probably get over that point in a couple of years. But craft beer is the kind of thing that’s a luxury, when you can buy the macro beers for half as much.”
Sorrells said other factors, such as a lack of seasonal sales and production issues, factored into the decision as well.
“Beer is a very cyclical business,” he said. “The winter affected us pretty bad — kegs beers didn’t sell well this winter. And then we had some kegs that leaked early on. So we lost a good bit of product there, and it just took time to get them replaced, and we were losing fast.”
While production of Gordon Creek beer — which was produced only in kegs — has ceased, Sorrells said a little of the supply remains.
“The way you have to do it with a brewery is you just have to wind down,” he said. “We still have beer on tap at places. I have beer still in kegs, but I had not planned on selling any from this point on.
“It’s just a delay in getting those kegs back and doing something with them down the road. The longer I delay, the longer I’ll have to pay rent and those kinds of things.”
It was unwelcome news for many of the business owners who carried Sorrells’ product and welcomed another brewery to complement Southern Prohibition on Mobile Street.
“Sam Sorrells is a great guy,” said Robert St. John, who featured Gordon Creek brews at Branch, Purple Parrot Cafe, Mahogany Bar and Crescent City Grill. “We were excited when he started brewing and were happy that we had another resource for locally brewed craft beer.”
Matt DiIorio, who offered rotations of Gordon Creek beer at the Golden Growler on Hardy Street, said it’s a huge loss — especially because Mississippi has gone from eight craft breweries to seven.
“It breaks my heart — it’s really sad,” he said. “(Sam) is a great guy, and he works really hard, and now he’s closing and it’s a travesty. It’s always good to have someone else in town and to have that competition going on (between breweries).”
In the meantime, Sorrells will turn back to the consumer side and pursue homebrewing.
“Homebrewing is very different than doing a production schedule, so I can pretty much do what I feel like doing, share it with my friends, and that gives me a creative outlet in place of the brewery,” he said.
“But I was proud of (the brewery), and I’m still proud of Hattiesburg being in on the craft beer movement. We’ve got a very good beer culture here.”