By Cody Worsham
“Beer,” Benjamin Franklin famously said, “is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
Baton Rouge will get the chance to bask in heavenly affection on Saturday, May 3, when Leroy’s Kitchen hosts its inaugural Baton Rouge Beer Fest in its parking lot from 2 to 6 p.m.
“This is a great town to hang out in, and Leroy’s is a great place to drink beer,” said Derek Ponamsky, Director of Marketing for Exclamation Point. “It just feels like a beer drinking place. We wanted to cultivate that culture, so we thought, ‘Let’s have some fun.’”
The festival will feature over a hundred brews, as well as food from Leroy’s, City Pork, and Frankie’s Dawg House, all three of which are part of the Exclamation Point Hospitality Group.
“It’s something that gets people excited, and not just people who are paying for the tickets,” Ponamsky said. “The vendors, the brewers, the distributors, they’re excited to get together and be a part of a community event.”
Several beers of the hundred stand out as must-haves. The last keg of Founders’ Kentucky Breakfast Stout will be tapped, while Saint Arnold’s Boiler Room makes its Louisiana debut. Shock Top’s Pretzel Wheat, a beer exclusive to festivals, will also be in attendance.
“You can’t just go to a bar and get that,” Ponamsky said.
The event will also have a local flavor, as Louisiana brewers Covington Brewhouse, Tin Roof, and Bayou Teche Biere, among others, bring their tastes to the table.
“It’s crazy the number of craft breweries we have in the state who are awesome,” Ponamsky said. “They get better every year.”
Tickets will cost $40 and allow attendees to taste all of the beers and enjoy the food. Arrivers will find Leroy’s parking lot with tents for the three food vendors, with Leroy’s chicken and burgers, City Pork’s wide variety of cuts, and Frankie’s famous hot dogs.
“Beer pairs up nicely with our menu,” Ponamsky said.
There will also be tents for the beers provided, and a draft truck will also be present for those who want more than a sample of various drinks. Ponamsky said care was taken to make sure the offerings are Louisiana weather-appropriate.
“We took some time to match the selection with weather,” he said. “In 85 degree weather, no one wants a heavy winter ale.”
Tickets are still available at BatonRougeBeerFest.com. For the price of admission, beer aficionados and inexperienced-but-curious palates alike will get a chance to wet their whistles for four hours.
“This is a very educated beer culture here, but this isn’t just for that culture, either,” said Ponamsky. “It’s a perfect entry point for those who like beer and want to learn more about it. If you’re curious, you can get your questions answered. And if you just like beer, it’s a great opportunity to taste and learn a few things.”
Take Your Pick
With over 100 beers in attendance for Saturday’s inaugural Baton Rouge Beer Fest, attendees will be hard pressed to make their choices.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Founders Brewing Co.’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout: What we’ve got here is an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish. Makes your taste buds squeal with delight. – FoundersBrewing.com
- ABV: 11.2%
- This is the last keg of KBS…you won’t want to miss it!
Saint Arnold Boiler Room: Boiler Room is a light bodied but surprisingly flavorful sour wheat beer. The sourness is created by souring the wort prior to boiling and fermentation (unlike Belgian-style sours which sour during fermentation and have active bacteria in them when packaged). The nose of the beer has a light Hersbrucker hop note and a distinct funkiness. The taste is sweet malt quickly going into a tart body and finish. The sour and malt flavors balance well all the way through creating a very refreshing beverage, akin to drinking a tart lemonade or limeade. For a beer with just over 3.5%, it creates a big experience for the palate. – SaintArnold.com
- ABV: 3.7%
- This beer is making its Baton Rouge debut. Come welcome it with open arms, and glasses!
Chufunkta Brewing Co.’s Kingfish Ale: Kingfish Ale is a light colored American Cream Ale with minimal hop flavor and a hint of lingering sweetness. It’s crisp and refreshing like a lager, with the flavor and complexity of an ale. Named after Louisiana legend Huey P. Long, we proudly say, “Every Can A King!!” – ChafunktaBrew.com
- ABV: 5%
- This is the first Kingfish Ale in Baton Rouge. Be among the first to taste it!