The Pelican State
Prior to Prohibition, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, New Orleans was leading the South in hometown brewing with over 30 breweries in the city. The first New Orleans brewery was created by Pierre Dreux in 1723 and named La Brassiere. The next significant Louisiana brewery was Fasnacht Brewery, which was named after those who started it, Louis and Samuel Fasnacht, back in 1852. Sadly, most of the early Louisiana breweries fell to bankruptcy when big brewing companies began taking over.
A few larger breweries survived Prohibition, including Falstaff, Regal, Dixie, and Jackson Brewing (JAX). Together, these made up 80% of the market by the 1950s. However, by the 1980s all of these breweries had shut their doors except for Dixie, which eventually shut down in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina, and was relocated to Wisconsin.
The next real brewing surge started in the 1980s upon the opening of the Abita Brewing Company in 1986, which just so happens to be the oldest operating craft brewer in Louisiana. Abita is responsible for brewing over 160,000 barrels of Louisiana craft beer annually. More and more small breweries began popping up all through the 1990s and early 2000s.
When in Louisiana, the Louisiana Brewery Trail is a must visit. The trail features nine essential brewery stops across the state starting in New Orleans and working down to Lafayette. At the top in New Orleans are the Louisiana craft breweries, NOLA Brewing and 40 Arpent. Next is the Covington area, which has the Abita Brewing Company, Chafunkta Brewing, Covington Brewhouse, and Old Rail Brewing Company. Moving down the trail you reach Baton Rouge, which has Tin Roof Brewing. Last but not least is Lafayette, which houses Parish Brewing and Bayou Teche Brewing. On this Louisiana Brewery Trail you have the opportunity to take brewery tours, talk with brewery owners and brewmasters, and of course try all the delicious beers.
Louisiana entering the craft brewing game later than many other states is not necessarily a bad thing. The state has always been known for their culinary creativity, which they are now effectively expressing in their Louisiana beer. Getting a late start means that festivals are just now gaining popularity in Louisiana, particularly with the Louisiana Winter Beer Fest, which happens in Lake Charles and features more than 100 craft breweries in Louisiana and across the country.
With some of the best beer in Louisiana, some of the best breweries in Louisiana to try are: Rikenjaks Brewing, Parish Brewing, NOLA Brewing, Great Raft Brewing, Bayou Teche Brewing, along with so many more. We have been lucky enough to feature beers from Bayou Teche Brewing and look forward to featuring many more in the future.
We happily carry some genuine Louisiana craft beers in our beer of the month club.