Last week, WYES cancelled its long-running International Beer Tasting and its Private Beer Sampling companion event, citing rising costs and logistical concerns. When the tasting was initiated 32 years ago, there weren't many other beer-focused events in the area, and the state didn't have the variety of beers now offered by several recently opened Louisiana breweries. The WYES events will be missed, but here are some major beer festivals on the 2015 calendar.
On Feb. 21. Lake Charles hosts the inaugural Louisiana Winter Beer Fest (www.lawinterbeerfest.com), featuring more than 50 breweries, including local favorites, national craft brands and visiting brewers such as Abbey Beverage Company and Sierra Blanca Brewing. The event is 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Calcasieu Marine National Bank. Tickets are $40, and a portion of proceeds benefit the Community Foundation of SWLA.
The 11th annual Zapp's International Beer Fest (www.zappsbeerfest.com) will be held at the Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on March 21. The festival benefits Friends of the Rural Life Museum. Tickets are $35.
On Sept. 26, the LA/SPCA (www.la-spca.org) and The Bulldog (www.draftfreak.com) present the sixth annual New Orleans On Tap in New Orleans City Park. The festival features craft beer, a homebrew competition, live music, food vendors and a VIP tent.
On Nov. 14, Houma's third annual Bayou Beer Fest (www.bayoubeerfest.com) will serve craft beer and local homebrews at Southdown Plantation. Proceeds benefit local veterans' assistance nonprofits. Last year, the festival raised $10,000 for the Terrebonne Veterans Shelter and Louisiana Military Family Assistance Fund, organizers said. The 2013 event drew 800 people, and in 2014 there were more than 2,000 attendees. — NORA McGUNNIGLE