Louisiana was well-represented at two recent national beer industry events: the National Beer Wholesalers Association's (NBWA) annual conference, which was held in New Orleans Sept. 28-Oct. 1, and the 33rd Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver Oct. 2-4.
The NBWA is an advocacy organization for beer distributors (like Southern Eagle Distributing and Crescent Crown Distributing in New Orleans) and focuses on the three-tier system of laws regulating distribution of beer from producers to retailers, including bars, restaurants and stores.
Four Louisiana breweries (NOLA Brewing (CEO Kirk Coco, pictured), Tin Roof Brewing Company, Bayou Teche Brewing and Great Raft Brewing) exhibited at the product demonstration showcase for distributors. In addition, one conference discussion panel included John Williams, executive director of the Beer Industry League of Louisiana (www.beerleague.com), which works on behalf of Louisiana beer distributors. Williams discussed the three-tier system's original purpose of promoting public health, safety and temperance.
GABF is sponsored by the Brewers Association and focuses on breweries. Abita, Bayou Teche, NOLA Brewing and Old Rail Brewing Company all poured at GABF. Old Rail attended the festival for the first time and poured its flagship beers. The new NOLA sours Piety and Lowerline got a lot of attention from attendees, and Bayou Teche's Teche Hombres barrel-aged agave beer also was popular.
But the biggest news was that Abita won a medal for the second year in a row: a bronze in the German-style marzen category for its new Octoberfest. Director of Brewing Operations Jaime Jurado says the beer, which replaced Abita's Fall Fest this year, is hoppier than its predecessor but still in the traditional Octoberfest beer style. Last year, Abita won a silver medal in the GABF bock category for Andygator.