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California and Mississippi beers come to Louisiana 

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Photo by Dan Feitel

California's Lagunitas Brewing Company (www.lagunitas.com) is coming to Louisiana in October. The hop-heavy bad boy of beer will be distributed by Crescent Crown, and the release is eagerly anticipated by local beer geeks.

  In regional news, Yalobusha Brewing, based in Water Valley, Mississippi, also is coming to Louisiana (also distributed by Crescent Crown) and New Orleans area events are scheduled through July 29.

  "We're taking New Orleans by storm," says Yalobusha founder Andy O'Bryan. The rollout includes opening an experimental firkin at The Avenue Pub, having a release party at d.b.a. and tap takeovers at local restaurants including Pizza Domenica and MoPho.

  Yalobusha brings three flagship beers as well as one of its most coveted special releases. Copperhead Amber Ale is a hoppy amber, the brewery's biggest seller in Mississippi. O'Bryan says the 4.8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) River Ale is "unclassifiable," but he compares it to an extra pale ale. It is fermented with ale yeast but has a grain bill of almost entirely pilsner malt, which gives the beer its easy-drinking characteristics. Mississ-IPA is an approachable, 6 percent ABV IPA dry hopped with Simcoe. The brewery's bourbon barrel-aged imperial milk stout Testify is released twice a year, in summer and winter.

  O'Bryan bought the historic Water Valley building to house his brewery in April 2013, and Yolabusha released its first beer in October 2013.

  "I have an aggressive expansion plan," O'Bryan says. "By the time we hit our one-year anniversary we'll be in three states: Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee." He wanted to find a talented, experienced brewer and hired Tony Balzola, who brewed beer for 13 years at McMenamins in Portland, Oregon.

  Visit www.facebook.com/yalobushabrewing for information about events in the New Orleans area.

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