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Red River and Great Raft Breweries hold down Shreveport craft beer scene 

click to enlarge Harvey Kenney is the head brewer 
of Great Raft Brewing.

Harvey Kenney is the head brewer of Great Raft Brewing.

Earlier this month, I visited two breweries in Shreveport and met the three co-founders of Red River Brewing (www.redriverbeer.com) at a crawfish boil. Former home brewers Jared Beville, Robert McGuire and Beau Raines all hold full-time jobs and have families, but their commitment drives them to work 18-hour days on weekends so they can brew craft beers. Their flagship beer Hay Ryed is a light-bodied but nuanced wheat and rye brew that's easy drinking for the new craft beer drinker but has enough depth to engage experienced palates.

  Accessibility for all palates also is important to Andrew and Lindsay Nations, founders of Great Raft Brewing (www.greatraftbrewing.com), and head brewer Harvey Kenney. They are trying to build a market for craft beer in the area. "Otherwise we're just passing market share between breweries," Lindsay says. "We want [the Shreveport community] to grow with us. Craft beer education is at the forefront of everything we do."

  Great Raft will bring its Southern Drawl pale lager and Reasonably Corrupt black lager to the Washington, D.C., craft beer and food event Savor May 9-10. The Nations believe that after attendees have exhausted their palates on high-alcohol double IPAs, barrel-aged sours and stouts and experimental Belgian styles, they'll welcome the simple pleasures of the clean-drinking and palate-cleansing lagers.

  The founders of Red River and Great Raft are optimistic about their beers' acceptance in Shreveport, and with each brewery's growth since opening in December, they have good reason to be.

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