The Louisiana craft beer world has grown much since Louisiana Craft Brewer Week (LaCBW) was created by the Legislature in 2013. When the first celebratory week took place, the state had seven breweries and three brewpubs. As LACBW starts this year (Sept. 18-25), Louisiana has 26 breweries and brewpubs, and local bars have no trouble dedicating taps to Louisiana-made beer. In the year since the last craft brewer week, seven breweries opened in Louisiana.
Second Line Brewing (433 N. Bernadotte St., 504-248-8979; www.secondlinebrewing.com) was just starting to brew last year and didn't participate in 2015 LACBW events, but this year, it celebrates its anniversary from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 23. There will be music by Kettle Black and food trucks.
In the past year, Second Line hired the former Bayou Teche Brewing brewmaster to oversee production. It also released its flagship IPA and Batture Blonde Ale in six packs and Route 47 Red IPA and Cease to Love coconut imperial stout in 22-ounce bombers. Its beer garden opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
New Orleans' other newcomer, Urban South Brewery (1645 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-267-4852; www.urbansouthbrewery.com), opened in March. Last month it added enough fermentation tanks to double its capacity. Urban South brews its flagship Holy Roller IPA and Charming Wit as well as seasonal beers. Delta Momma, its summer seasonal, was a Vienna-style lager dry hopped with Citra hops, and the fall seasonal, a traditional Oktoberfest Munich lager, was recently released.
Urban South's taproom opens at 4 p.m. on Monday, Thursday and Friday and at 11 a.m. on weekends. Free brewery tours start at 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
Lafayette welcomed its first brewery, Cajun Brewing (www.cajunbrewing.com), in September 2015. Its taproom isn't open yet, but customers can get growlers filled with its flagship Cajun Wit, Bayou Brunette brown ale or a rotating selection of limited-edition and specialty beers.
In Amite, Chappapeela Farms Brewery (www.chapbrewery.com) opened with a saison and a porter. Its brews, generally packaged in corked 750 ml bottles, primarily are geared toward chefs and restaurants that use Chappapeela Farms meat and produce.
Baton Rouge got its second brewery when Southern Craft Brewing Company (www.socraftbeer.com) opened in April. Its flagship beers are Red Stick Rye ale and Pompous Pelican double IPA, and brewers Joe Picou and Wes Hedges released a summer seasonal, Swamp Sting, a light American ale made with local honey. Red Stick Rye uses a historically Southern-grown rye variety produced in North Carolina, and Pompous Pelican features Louisiana raw cane sugar.
Founder and brewer Heath Lord opened Ouachita Brewing Company (www.ouachitabrewing.com) in West Monroe in December 2015. Demand for its flagship LouisiaAmber surpassed the capacity of its two-barrel system, so it contracts brewing at Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in Mississippi while Ouachita brews Ouachitadown pilsner, 318 IPA, Conflicted coffee porter and Silverwater ESB on site.
In Lake Charles, Crying Eagle Brewing Company (www.cryingeagle.com) opened in May and officially opened its 4,000-square-foot taproom Sept. 10. The 15,000-square-foot facility includes 7,500 square foot of brewery space, rental space for private events and a beer garden. It brews Calcasieu Common, an American cream ale called The Chuck and Ready to Mingle, a Belgian-style single, also known as a patersbier.
Wayward Owl Brewing Company (www.waywardowlbrewing.com) will open soon on Thalia Street. Currently under construction are the Parleaux Beer Lab (www.parleauxbeerlab.com) in Bywater and Brieux Carre in Faubourg Marigny. Brooks Hamaker, Abita Brewing Company's founding brewmaster, is the head brewer for Flying Tiger Brewery (www.flying-tiger-brewery.com), which will open in Monroe.
Projects in early development stages include Port Orleans Brewing, which has a location on Tchoupitoulas Street, and Royal Brewery in New Orleans East.
During LACBW, many Louisiana beers and specially brewed beers are featured are events at bars such as The Avenue Pub, Ale, The Bulldog Mid-City and Uptown, Lager's International Ale House, Junction, World of Beer and elsewhere.
"We will celebrate craft beer made in Louisiana all week long," says Polly Watts, owner of The Avenue Pub (1723 St. Charles Ave., 504-586-9243; www.theavenuepub.com). "For years during American Craft Beer Week, we've turned over all our taps to American-made craft beers. We've always wanted to do that for Louisana Craft Brewers Week, but up until recently, there just weren't enough options."
Brewer week events include tap takeovers, samplings of cask ales and opportunities to meet brewers. The grand finale is NOLA on Tap, the state's largest beer festival, held Sept. 24 in New Orleans City Park. The event features beers from breweries across the state as well as local homebrewers. NOLA on Tap benefits the LA/SPCA.Read more here:
For a list of LCBW events, visit www.nolabeerblog.com.