Monday, August 15, 2022

YBC Team Brews Premium Beer in Water Valley

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Nectar of the Gods.

It has been a labor of love for Amos Harvey. Love of Mississippi, and love of beer brewing. Now in its 5th month of operation, Yalobusha Brewing Company is the newest, and we think, the coolest and tastiest, craft beer provider to operate in the state.
Located in Water Valley in a steel fabrication plant from the 1860s, this place has got as much character as the beer and it’s brewers. Amos, a fixture in Oxford for many years, has had a hand in many local endeavors. Starting back in the 90s, he was part of the initiation of Fat Possum Records. He was the go-to tour manager for music acts such as R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and T. Model Ford. But his first love was beer brewing, so he left his home state of Mississippi seeking employment with a brewery. A stint with Big Horn Brewing in Idaho gave him his chops.
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These vats contain thousands of gallons of YBC’s beer.

By 1997, the south was calling him home, although the laws in Mississippi didn’t allow commercial beer brewing, he was able to get a job working the grave yard shift for Abita Beer in New Orleans.
Late one night, bored (and thirsty) he decided to make up his own recipe for a new ale that suited his tastes.
The one keg he made ended up in the tap room, the owner of Abita luckily tried a glass and loved the taste. This landed Amos a job as one of several head brewers where he was able to gain some real experience.
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Amos HarveyIMG_3704Butch Foxx

Seeing as the goal was to open a brewery in Mississippi, Amos decided to come back to make Oxford his home base and continue to be a tour manager until the laws changed. He moved up from the local blues acts to national acts such as Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem.
Through these tours he met a kindred beer spirit with 13 years experience, Anthony Balzola. While at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland Ore., he smelled the familiar flavors that told him, there’s some brewin’ going on.
He and Tony talked hops and malts, and planted the seeds for a partnership they hoped would come to fruition.
Ready to get off the road from touring, Amos bought a house with his wife in Water Valley and agreed to help run the original Lamar Lounge with his old Fat Possum crew.
One day he got the opportunity he was waiting for when Andy O’Brien approached him about wanting to open a brewery. Amos brought him to the building in Water Valley and told him about Tony’s tasty brews and bohemian spirit. After a visit to Mississippi, Tony and his wife were on board. Add in another investor, Oxford ER Surgeon Mac Nichols, and a partnership was born.
YBC is young, their first beer launched was in October 2013 at a party at Proud Larry’s. Now they have one of their three signature flavors (River Ale, Mississ-IPA & Copperhead Amber) on tap at over 30 bars in Oxford and throughout Mississippi.
There are many things in development, including seasonal brews to include small batches, bottling with a 1953 Meyer Bottling Line and Brewery tours with shuttle service to and from Oxford. Can’t wait, sounds like a tasty way to spend an afternoon.
Photos and story by Sarah Beth Wiley, HottyToddy.com creative director and beer lover.
From left, Tony Balzola, J.R. Clarl and Amos Harvey enjoy their work.
From left, Tony Balzola, J.R. Clark and Amos Harvey enjoy their work.

Cellarman J.R. Clark sorts kegs for distribution.
Cellarman J.R. Clark sorts kegs for distribution.

 

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Beer is bottled for the long trip to your favorite bar.

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River Ale ages in oaken barrels.

 
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The Brewery will soon be open for tours.

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Tony Balzola is head brewer at YBC.

 
 
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