At the turn of the 20th century, brewing in Shreveport was a small but significant industry. In 1908, however, well before Prohibition, Caddo Parish, where Shreveport is located, outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol. As in many other areas, this stunted the brewing industry long after Prohibition was repealed. More than 100 years later, two breweries in Shreveport have — within two days of each other — received their licenses to brew.
Red River Brewing (www.redriverbeer.com), the first to be licensed, poured its first commercially available beer Oct. 19 at Shreveport's BREW festival, which is fitting given that five years ago, "It was that experience that planted the seeds of what would become Red River Brewing Company," says co-founder Beau Raines.
On Oct. 15, Great Raft Brewing (www.greatraftbrewing.com), founded by Shreveport natives Andrew and Lindsay Nations, sold the first pint of Shreveport-brewed beer since 1908. They plan to begin regular production this week and will provide beer to 15 accounts in northwest Louisiana by Thanksgiving. Great Raft's tasting room will open by the end of the year, Lindsay says. "We hope to continue to educate people about beer — both how it's made and the variety of styles available," she says. "The tasting room will be a place where people can come and talk about beer, learn about it, or just hang out and enjoy it."
Shreveport has a long way to go before reaching "beer town" status. "We are seeing things moving in the right direction," says Lindsay, pointing out that Shreveport is the only city in Louisiana with two production breweries, and that the local beer palate is shifting to a local craft-oriented direction. "All of this was nonexistent a year ago and we expect this trend to continue at a rapid pace," Raines says.