Southwest Louisiana’s culture is one that celebrates good times with great people. It’s home to more than 75 annual fairs and festivals, a number constantly growing. In April, Lake Charles hosts the Winter Beer Festival, bringing in breweries from throughout the state to showcase their products. The people here celebrate their passion for good food, a love for Cajun and Zydeco music and now, craft beer.
Crying Eagle Brewing Co. is Lake Charles’ first craft brewery, the 25th craft brewery in the state and one of the latest additions to the Louisiana Brewery Trail. It’s already become a local hangout and their three brews—The Chuck, Ready to Mingle and Calcasieu Common—have become local favorites. The craft brewery scene in Lake Charles has people excited, to say the least. Along with a fun and interesting tour, Crying Eagle now offers a great deal for those who visit the brewery: $13 for three casino-style chips each worth one beer. You can make a day of it by sampling all three or hang on to your leftover chips for your next visit.
A few weekends ago, some friends and I spent a Friday evening checking out the new brew scene around Lake Charles. The weather was cool and comfortable, which made sitting in Crying Eagle’s outdoor beer garden all the better. After choosing our brews (I went with The Chuck, a light golden ale), we played a few games of washers and bean bag toss while listening to a great local artist. It made for a perfect start to our evening.
We then moved on to our next stop, a Lake Charles favorite from years past recently reborn. Rikenjaks Brewing Company made its debut in the 1990s. It was the first in the area to offer craft beer with its famous Old Hardhead Scottish Ale and now it has made its official comeback. Its new location offers a cozy indoor restaurant space complete with a bar featuring several Louisiana Brewery Trail favorites on tap including the classic Old Hardhead, a deep brown ale with a sweet, malty finish. Don’t let the darkness of this beer deter you from ordering it, Old Hardhead is still relatively light. Another major highlight to the new-and-improved Rikenjaks is the outdoor bar area lined with flat-screen TVs, spacious patio seating and bar games like a giant version of Jenga, cornhole and ping pong. Rikenjaks is a great place to see local artists perform live music seven days a week on both indoor and outdoor stages. We spent our evening on the patio listening to a very talented local artist while enjoying appetizers (try the alligator boulette) and sharing a few laughs.
After experiencing both of the new Lake Charles craft brew spots, I understood the popularity. Both Crying Eagle and Rikenjaks are great representations of the culture in Lake Charles, bringing together everything that makes this city such a special place. These craft brewery options are not to be missed when you #VisitLakeCharles!
For more information, visit www.VisitLakeCharles.org/Brews.