Considered the birthplace of the modern cocktail, Louisiana typically gets credit for spirits-based beverages – Daiquiris, Sazeracs, and Hurricanes – before beers and ales. But, with the increasing number of craft breweries in the state, local officials hope to change that, and last week Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne introduced the first Louisiana Craft Beer Trail.
The website presented by the state tourism board with the help of the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild, includes seven breweries and brewpubs, connecting Abita in Abita Springs, the state's best-known craft brewery with Bayou Teche Brewing, in Arnaudville; Chafunkta Brewing Co., in Mandeville; Covington Brewhouse, in Covington; NOLA Brewing, in New Orleans; Parish Brewing Co., in Broussard; and Tin Roof Brewing Co., in Baton Rouge. Each stop offers the brewery's history, information on tours, and details on local restaurants, entertainment, and attractions.
"Craft beer in Louisiana is probably geared towards food more than it is anywhere else in the country," says Conrad Rolling, executive director of the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild. "That's not to say that other people aren't interested in pairing craft beer. But in Louisiana in particular, a lot of recipes and brewery descriptions go into how those beers compare to different foods."
This year, two breweries in Shreveport, Red River Brewing Co. and Great Raft Brewing, will be added to the trail, and two more, Gnarly Barley and Mudbug, are in the works, and slated for sometime next year.
Although Hurricane Katrina permanently shuttered New Orleans' beloved Dixie brewery, Rolling argues the future remains bright for beer drinkers in the state. "The breweries in Louisiana are growing very quickly. It's a strong upward trend, and Louisiana is slowly catching up to some of the more prominent beer states in the country."