American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), held May 11-18, showed the ever-growing popularity of craft beer in Louisiana. Ten Louisiana breweries (up from six last) participated in events at area restaurants and bars and showcased new and signature beers for distributors, retailers and consumers.
Bayou Teche Brewing co-founder Karlos Knott says the brewery participated in only two events at the 2010 ACBW. “This year, it was two or three events per night — in New Orleans alone.”
The state’s newest brewery, Gnarly Barley in Hammond, debuted its first beer just in time to participate in ACBW events on the Northshore and in New Orleans every night of the week.
“We really didn't want to miss out on such an amazing week for craft beer,” co-founder Cari Caramonta says. “It was our first time participating as a commercial brewery and the experience was better than we could have imagined.”
40 Arpent Brewing co-founder Emily Naquin says that she and her husband, head brewer Michael Naquin, had such a great experience interacting with retailers and consumers during last week’s ACBW that they plan to release two special beers per month in June, July and August.
The state’s craft beer distributors do a huge amount of planning months in advance of ACBW. According to Vanessa Gomes, Craft Brands Manager for Champagne Beverage Company in Madisonville, “After all the hard work is done, the big reward is the reaction of the consumer taking that first sip of that one specialty item that they marked their calendar for.”
Tin Roof Brewing sales director Jon Smith sees success for his brewery and the craft beer scene in Louisiana as a whole. “This is a testament to the brewers, sellers, bar owners, bartenders, writers and, most of all, drinkers for continued support of this entire movement.” — NORA McGUNNIGLE