I hate to lead a story with a cliche, but this one really just works, “when one door closes another one opens.” Fewer words could better describe the brewing journey of Tracy Hutton, the owner and head brewer of Mississippi Culture Oak Fermented Ales, which will officially open its taps on Saturday at Noon.
This week Hutton was getting the finishing touches on his new place located at 201 South Union Street, in Staunton, when a social media post went out from Recess Brewing in Edwardsville. Recess Brewing was closing its taps after a 9-year run.
The post from Recess, mentioned Hutton by name and celebrated his moving on from brewmaster at Recess to opening his own brewery. That is a journey worth knowing about.
Tracy Hutton’s Brewing Journey
“I sort of fell into brewing. I was bartending at Recess Brewing and began to fall in love with craft beer,” said Hutton.
The owner at the time, Matt Flach, recognized something in Hutton and loaned him his own home brewing equipment and plenty of books about brewing and beer.
“I was hooked. A couple of years later I became the Assistant Brewer and Matt told us his family was moving to South Carolina. He decided to keep Recess open though and this gave me the opportunity to take over more of the brewing operations. I was lucky that with very little experience he trusted me to write and brew my own recipes,” said Hutton, who became head brewer at Recess in 2018.
But like many in the brewing world, there is always that dream of owning your brewery.
“I even had an Instagram page with the name Mississippi Culture in hopes of someday using it. A year or so after that my parents approached me with the idea of investing and opening a brewery and Mississippi Culture became a reality,” said Hutton.
Hutton and his team purchased a building in January of 2020 and began construction. COVID put a halt on the project shortly after the first phase of construction. The timeline got shifted and things took a different route but now in April of 2023, Hutton is finally ready to open.
What will Mississippi Culture be?
Hutton’s brewing focus will center on “mixed culture oak fermented ales.” This will be all things tart and funky, making use of secondary ingredients like fruit and spices. They will also have a farmhouse IPA and easier drinking styles like Belgian blonde.
“I love experimentation and doing what’s different. The third beer I ever homebrewed was a Brett Saison with cranberry,” remembers Hutton. “Fruit flavors and farmhouse funk quickly became some of my favorite things to drink once I found them. For better or worse I’ve always kind of gone against the mainstream and farmhouse beers incapsulate that to me.”
First Beers First
During this week’s run-up to the grand opening, Hutton began revealing is Opening Day Line Up.
First up is Pearl Street, a Belgian blonde ale brewed with wheat and pilsner malt from Sugar Creek Malt Company using hops from “3.9 Hops,” a family-owned and operated farm producing a variety of hops in Millstadt.
“3.9 hops’ nugget hops is grown just a short trek down the road from us and fermented warm in oak barrels with Belgian yeast from our friends at Omegayeast. The beer was aged for 8 months in oak after fermentation,” said Hutton.
Beer number two for the grand opening weekend is “I Thought That I Was Dreaming.”
“We took our Belgian blonde aged in oak and dosed it with a hefty amount of peach,” said Hutton. “The aroma is full of peach with subtle hints of spice and citrus from the warm fermentation peaking through. The flavor is packed with fresh peach and notes of spiced graham cracker. It is rounded out by the oak character. It finishes crisp and drying, begging you to take another sip.
“Head on a Canvas” is our third beer in the new lineup for our grand opening this weekend,” said Hutton.
This beer is fermented in oak with Omegayeast’s Belgian Saison yeast and their brettanomyces blend.
“We hopped this one for just a hint of bitterness and dry hopped it with whole leaf mosaic hops,” said Hutton. ‘The dry hop and warm fermentation lead to a fruity and complex aroma full of Brett character.”
Look for notes of citrus rind and fresh-cut grass. It is dry and crisp, finishing with mild hop bitterness. It could be a nice refresher for the coming summer.
Open Day and Where to Find MC Beer
Along with beer on tap, visitors to the brewery will also enjoy live music. This Saturday, Jilliane and Mary will be joining breaking in the new small stage with their first set running from to 2-5pm followed up by Drew Shaefor from 6-9.
While his initial focus will be to drive taproom sales, Hutton does plan to distribute and will start with just a small selection of craft beer-focused bars in the Metro East.
He has also launched an annual Member-Sip program. The program includes a 750ml bottle fill each month, an MC glass, and a T-shirt. You can find out more information online.
And Lastly, The Name
Hutton grew up in Quincy, Illinois right along the Mississippi River.
“My family is and always has been very blue collar and I wanted to really take inspiration from that culture including design aesthetics, work ethic, merchandising, and more,” said Hutton. “To me, Mississippi Culture is the culture of the blue-collar working class of the Midwest. Since we are focusing on wild ales it is also a play on words. We hope to eventually ferment with yeast captured in the area and possibly even spontaneously fermented beer where our yeast culture would be from the area around the Mississippi, so quite literally a Mississippi Culture.”
201 South Union
Staunton, IL 62088