Karlos Knott started Bayou Teche Brewing (www.bayoutechebrewing.-com) in 2009 at his family's farm in Arnaudville, a small town in Acadiana near Lafayette. Bayou Teche beers usually have some overt connection to traditional Louisiana foods, and it calls its latest, Saison d'Ecrevisses, a "crawfish season" ale. It's part of the brewery's Lagniappe Series of specialty beers, which soon will include a coffee beer.
Where did the idea for food-specific beers come from?
Knott: Some years back, I went to this great wine store in Lafayette, Philippe's, and asked the owner about a wine to go with a gumbo we were making. He said, "You don't drink wine with gumbo, you drink beer." So I went home with this German pilsner, and I started thinking, "Why am I drinking a German beer with this food?" Why don't we have our own Louisiana beer for Louisiana food? It's really all Belgian and northern French and some old German styles that we're modeling our beers after, and that's because they're intended to go with Louisiana food, which is closer to food from those parts of Europe.
Do you ever worry the Louisiana focus could limit the appeal in other markets?
K: Most microbrews reflect the passions of their owners and their employees. Our thing is Louisiana culture, and we're always trying to find ways to preserve and promote that. Our beer is sold all over now, so people respond to it. And you travel to meet with distributors in these other states, and when they take you out for a meal it's like Olive Garden or T.G.I. Friday's. So it just shows you again how we have to appreciate and take care of what we have here.
One could argue that any beer is crawfish beer. What makes your new brew special?
K: When you eat boiled crawfish, you have all this fat and salt and spice coating your palate. So this is a beer we crafted to stand up to that onslaught. It's a little more carbonated, so those bubbles kind of scour your mouth and reset the palate a bit. And we put them in these big 22-ounce bombers (bottles), so at the boil, you don't have to go to the cooler as often. — IAN MCNULTY