One would expect a state as passionate about cuisine as Louisiana to be equally passionate about how to wash it down. And like its world-acclaimed food, Louisiana is ready to share its homegrown beverage of choice—craft beer—with the world.
The newest buzz in Louisiana travel is the recently-launched Louisiana Brewery Trail. We launched the brewery trail last summer and within 24 hours I was contacted by a USA Today photo editor looking for photos to go with the already-written story running that weekend. The next photo inquiries, from the The Miami Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, came the following day. As their pieces and other outlets’ stories went public, our webmasters were noting a spike in consumer inquiries. Needless to say, we knew we had a big hit on our hands.
In its short existence, the Louisiana Brewery Trail has grown from seven to 11 breweries statewide. The highest concentration of brewers are in the area north of Lake Pontchartrain, what we call the Northshore, about a half-hour north of New Orleans. But craft brewers in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Hammond, Arabi and the small towns of Arnaudville and Broussard in Cajun Country are also on board.
I’ve toured several of the breweries and spent time talking with their owners and their brewmasters (often the same person). They often talk in an unfamiliar lingo, giving me details on choosing ingredients and efforts to source them, the various processes that go into the actual brewing, scrupulous timing and other details. I always walk away having gained knowledge about the brewing process and an appreciation for the exceptional attention to detail that goes into each vat, keg and bottle.
Frequently the brewmasters go back to our passion for food and their passion to accent it as brewers. For example, Karlos Knott, the founder of Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, will be the first to tell you he intentionally formulated his pale ale, Bière Pâle, to go with Louisiana cuisine, particularly seafood. While Michael Naquin of Arabi-based 40 Arpent Brewing Company—a newcomer to the trail—has a Red Bean and Rice Ale brewed with locally grown red beans and Louisiana rice, in tribute to south Louisiana’s traditional Monday meal.
Other Louisiana Brewery Trail stops include Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, Chafunkta Brewing Company in Mandeville, Gnarly Barley in Hammond, Great Raft Brewing in Shreveport, NOLA Brewing Company in New Orleans, Parish Brewing Company in Broussard, Red River Brewing in Shreveport and Tin Roof Brewing Company in Baton Rouge. For more details visit the Louisiana Brewery Trail’s official website.
Travelers flock to Louisiana to eat our cuisine, dance to our music and have the time of their lives. Now when I’m asked what was the catalyst for the Louisiana Brewery Trail, I just kind of laugh and say that maybe it was Louisiana’s way of filling in the missing piece in “eat, drink and be merry” for locals and visitors alike.