Therefore, be it resolved that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby designate the week of September 23 through 29, 2013, as Louisiana Craft Brewer Week in recognition of the aforementioned contributions by Louisiana craft brewers to the state." (House Concurrent Resolution No. 106, by Rep. James Armes and Sen. Elbert Guillory, June 6, 2013)
With this resolution, the Louisiana craft brewing industry took a huge step forward in legitimacy and statewide support.
Conrad Rolling, the director of the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild, says that though the legislation specifically indicates this year's dates, the guild plans to hold Louisiana Craft Brewer Week during the end of September every year. The Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild, a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of the seven Louisiana production breweries, drafted the bill and brought it to the Legislature in partnership with the Beer Industry League of Louisiana, which represents the state's beer distributors. "The week itself is a celebration of Louisiana breweries, brewers and beer," Rolling says, "Our goal is to promote the great beer that our state's breweries have to offer and bring awareness to the incredible people who brew it."
Andrew Godley, founder and head brewer for Parish Brewing and president of the guild, says, "This isn't another week to showcase craft beer in general, but instead to showcase and promote our great Louisiana breweries and beers." The state has become an attractive market for nationally recognized brewers and there are more out-of-state craft beers available in the growing beer market. "We don't want to lose focus on why locally produced beer is so important," Godley says.
Godley says there is excitement about the legislation and the activities during the week itself. NOLA Brewing is releasing its collaboration with New Belgium, Swamp Grape Escape, to coincide with Louisiana Craft Brewers Week. Debut events are scheduled at bars throughout the area, including The Avenue Pub, d.b.a., Bulldog locations, The Barley Oak and The Irish House. Samplings from special cask versions will showcase the diverse flavor aspects of this Belgian single style brewed with local muscadine grapes. Godley himself will release Dr. Hoptagon, Parish's black IPA, during the week as well.
Staff from New Belgium brewery will attend the release party Monday, Sept. 23 at The Avenue Pub. The Pub also will feature local brewery Bayou Teche on Sunday, Sept. 22, when it serves jambalaya and two new brews: Hop-Olousas IPA and Miel Sauvage, a honey beer that is barrel-aged for 100 days.
Craft Brewer Week coincides with one of the state's most popular and largest beer festivals. Now in its fourth year, New Orleans on Tap was conceived by the owners of the Bulldog. They teamed up with the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA) to create a dog-friendly charity event that features craft beers from all over the country. It's best known, however, as being the place to sample beer from breweries that aren't open yet, including Gnarly Barley, Mudbug and Cajun Fire. These breweries use the event to test their beers and establish their names in local markets.
Abita, Bayou Teche, Chafunkta, Covington, NOLA Brewing, Parish and Tin Roof all have events scheduled, and there are beer tappings, cask sampling, beer flight tastings, dinners, giveaways and more (for a list of events, see Fork + Center, right column).
"Obviously, this is the first year, so we don't know what to expect as far as support and participation from retailers and consumers," Godley says. "But hopefully, for every year after this, the turnout and impact gets greater and greater to benefit our important local industry."