Louisiana is known for good food, good music and good times. There’s a festival nearly every weekend, and it’s a nightmare state for anyone with the condition known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). We’re home to incredible technological advances on the Silicon Bayou, a State Bird that descended directly from velociraptors (if you believe this article from Deadspin) and archaeological wonders like Poverty Point. Perhaps you’ve also heard of a little event we call “Freakin’ Mardi Gras.” We’re also becoming home to some of the most delicious beers this side of the Mississippi has ever seen. Better yet, we can take the other side, too.
According to the Brewer’s Association, Louisiana is home to a total of 42 microbreweries, brewpubs and breweries in planning. Generally, the South is trailing the country in number of brewhouses, partially due to the questionable popularity of beer-pong grade brews that rhyme with Wudbeiser and Liller Mite. This may also be due to the proximity of the nation’s Bible Belt region. The prominence of religious factors has kept alcoholic advances at bay until recently. There are still grocery stores that refuse liquor or beer sales until church lets out on Sundays, typically around noon. While the rest of the country has been downing craft beers made down the road and via taps at their neighborhood pubs, the Gulf region is playing catchup after being relegated for decades of shotgunning Keystone Light and other terrible mass-produced beverages that the The Atlantic refers to as “fizzy dishwater.”
A Brief History on LA Brews
In the early 1970s, there were three breweries in New Orleans producing beer: Falstaff, Jackson, and Dixie. Jackson Brewing Co., adjacent to Jackson Square, closed in 1972 while Falstaff shuttered in 1978, leaving only Dixie to face the “beer wars” of the 1980s and 1990s, and encounter Hurricane Katrina. Dixie beer is now contract brewed at other locations. Alongside the three breweries, Louisiana law was favorable to grocery store chains having their own “house brand” of beer in addition to producing unusual can sizes (10 and 14 ounces as opposed to the traditional 12 and 16 ounce cans). The oddly sized cans addressed loopholes in state tax laws on the regularly sized cans. Typical Louisiana. Always marching to the beat of its own second line drum.
However, the times are a-changin’. Why have grocery house beer when there is likely a brewhouse right down the road? Many of the breweries that call Louisiana home are nationally recognized and available at bars across the country. Abita Brewing Company in Covington (opened in 1986), Bayou Teche Brewery in Arnaudville (opened in 2010), Covington Brewhouse in Covington, Great Raft Brewing in Shreveport (opened in 2013), New Orleans Lager and Ale (NOLA) Brewing Company in New Orleans (opened in 2009), Parish Brewing Company in Broussard (opened in 2008) and Tin Roof Brewing Company in Baton Rouge (opened in 2010) are all ranked on both BeerAdvocate.com and Thrillist’s Beers to Try Before You Die lists. I have dear friends in Arizona who receive special Abita blends before they even hit the shelves at my local Rouses, which is both infuriating and incredible.
The moral of the story? Buy and drink leauxcal. Tour the breweries, play giant Jenga in their bars and call an Uber home. Will we ever match California’s 509 breweries? Probably not. Our beer probably tastes better, though.
Love local brews? Great. Leave a comment about your favorite brew and where you had it! Or drop me a line at [email protected], and fill me in on the up and comers in the Wheat+Barley+Hops trifecta.