A home away from home, complete with exceptional brews from across the state of Mississippi - that’s what co-owners Derric Curran and Alistair Clark had in mind when they developed the idea for Mississippi Ale House in Olive Branch. With historic and rustic decor, a petite and intimate yet lively setting, a large “backyard” style patio just waiting on warmer temps, a welcoming neighbor next door at Sidestreet Burgers, and 19 beers on tap that changes weekly, they’re living up to exactly what they wanted in a beer bar - and much more.
Curran and Clark, buddies who met in the workplace when they were news photographers at Fox 13, kept their friendship going and added to it becoming co-business partners when they saw a need for more beer in DeSoto County. At first, they were hoping to open a place for DeSoto County residents to purchase growlers, and the idea went from a growler station to a beer bar and is now both.
“Aside from a gas station, there wasn’t a place in DeSoto County to get growlers, and we wanted to make that happen,” Curran says. “Then we said, well if we’re going to sell growlers, we may as well sell pints too.”
When the idea was formed, it didn’t take them long to find a place for it. Jonathan Mah, the owner and self-made chef of Sidestreet Burgers and also a good friend of Curran and Clark, proposed they buy the building next to his restaurant, and they didn’t hesitate.
“In three months we formed the idea, to gutting the building, to redoing the building, and three months later we opened up,” Curran says.
Everything from the beer to the decor was designed with locals in mind. Curran says their goal was for local residents to have a different experience than what they get at the traditional chain restaurant or bar.
“We were looking for a place that we would want hang out and that we would be comfortable in, so we designed the place with that in mind,” he says. “It has a homey feel, that’s comfortable, not too loud, and of course a good, unique selection of beers.”
This history of the building the bar is housed in gives it even more hometown, charming character. It’s been refurbished with 1830’s old barn wood they found and purchased, giving it a cozy, vintage feel.
“When we have live music in here, the people playing tell us it feels like playing in their living room, it’s just a very at-home experience of drinking beer but you’re away from home, spending time with friends,” says Curran.
And possibly the most fun fact of all - Elvis has been in the building. It was built in the 1940’s and was originally a garage with a grease rack and pumps still out front when they purchased it. According to Curran, Vernon Presley was a regular customer. “When the Presleys would drive up from Tupelo to go to Memphis, they would stop here and get their car cleaned up, so when Elvis was a kid, he spent time in this building,” he says.
From the history of the place to the beers they carry, Curran and Clark have done their research. Before they opened, they did brew tours together of all the breweries in Mississippi, to get a feel of each brewery and what they have to offer. Now they work with them each week on distribution of new and seasonal beers.
“There are 12 breweries in Mississippi that distribute, and we try to carry all of them,” he says. “We change the menu every week, so we’re in constant contact with all the breweries to find out what new beers they have and what we can get seasonally. And we carry other beers too - not just from Mississippi - ones you can’t always find just anywhere. So if you like craft beer and you like trying different things, our menu changes constantly.”
They try to keep their event schedule as lively as their beer menus. Every Tuesday night is Trivia Night, Saturday nights they have live music from local bands, and in April, they’re hosting a beer festival on National Beer Day with multiple breweries in attendance. They’re very active on social media, so for more information on upcoming events and new beer arrivals, follow them on Facebook and Instagram (@mississippialehouse).
Sidestreet Burger Beer Pairings
A visit to Mississippi Ale House isn’t complete without a little snack or full-blown delicious meal from their friends next door at Sidestreet Burgers. It sounds like a burger-only joint, but their menu is vast, and their chef, Jonathan, is always playing with and adding new, delectable items to the menu. Here’s a list of their most popular menu items, plus the perfect beer to pair with each.
Blackened Fish Taco - Light, fruity brew with tropical undertones pairs well with an IPA, or a Sour
Fat Panda (Korean-Style Sirloin Sandwich) – This signature Sidestreet behemoth pairs nicely with a dark, robust brew - Porter or Stout
Siracha Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadilla – Take the edge off this spicy serving with a Brown or Amber ale
Mother Clucker (Spicy Chicken, Honey Mustard Sandwich) – Sweet-meets-spicy dish is dreamy alongside a pale ale, IPA, or amber ale
Bacon Jam Burger – Big, beefy, and best alongside a lager, wheat, or saison
For ale aficionados, Mississippi Ale House offers a small-town craft beer bar in a Rustic, homey setting
Story & Photos by Casey Hilder