There are now 13 production breweries in Louisiana, and more than half opened in the last two years. In light of that growth, several of the newer brewers shared lessons they learned when getting started.
Michael Naquin of 40 Arpent Brewing Co. (6809 N. Peters St, Arabi, 504-444-3972; www.40arpentbrewery.com) says, "Your first formula is your best. Don't go messing with it till you have brewed it at least four times."
He adds, "There will always be other breweries with more money and bigger equipment, but if you brew better beer than them on your three-barrel system, then guess what? There may be a place for you too."
Chafunkta Brewing Company's (21449 Marion Lane No. 2, Mandeville, 985 869-0716; www.chafunktabrew.com) Josh Erickson reflects: "I wish we would've started gypsy brewing on Lazy Magnolia's 60-barrel system sooner than we had versus trying to keep up with overwhelming demand on a 1.5-barrel system for two years."
Beau Raines, co-founder of Shreveport's Red River Brewing Co. (www.redriverbeer.com), says: "It's so much work. We really didn't have a clue what we were doing when we started; we thought we did, but we didn't. If we had the chance to do it all over again, it would have been better to invest more money on the front end. And packaging: The draft beer percentages are so small, you're really shooting yourself in the foot if you don't bottle or can."
According to Scott Wood of the Courtyard Brewery (1020 Erato St.; www.courtyardbrewing.com), "Everyone who said I couldn't do this was wrong. Trust in your vision."
He also advises, "Every mistake I've made was a necessary mistake. I needed to make them to learn how to brew better. If it doesn't happen now while I'm still learning, it'll happen eventually.
"At the end of the day: is the beer good? Are you enjoying life?" Wood asks. "If the answers to those are yes, it doesn't really matter about what equipment you have, how much money you have or how much sleep you get."