By Catie Santos
The Pelican House hosted the first Delta Brewer’s Ball on Saturday, May 16, the closing day of American Craft Beer Week. With the intent to bring together local breweries and local craft beer enthusiasts, the ball provided a one-of-a-kind opportunity for those interested in meeting the makers of their favorite beers. In attendance were 12 brewing companies, each with a specialty brew: 40 Arpent Brewing Company, Abita Beer, Bayou Teche Brewery, Chafunkta Brewing Company, Covington Brewhouse, Gnarly Barley Brewing, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, NOLA Brewing, Parish Brewing Company, Saint Arnola Brewing Company, Tin Roof Brewing Company, and Yalobusha Brewing Company.
“We tapped 11 kegs, all specialty, all hard to come by, which rarely happens in one place at the same time,” said Gavin Jobe, Pelican House co-owner. “We have the owners and brewers of every local tap in here, and we want to give people face-to-face time with the people who make their beer, in a smaller environment than the bigger fests.”
The breweries were stationed at tables around the draft house, allowing attendees to float around and visit with the brewers at their own discretion. Throughout the event, specialty beers were steadily flowing, as were the regular offerings from the brewing companies. Taps from all other companies had been temporarily removed to keep the focus on the local brewers.
The “local” event wasn’t limited to just Louisiana brewers. The Lazy Magnolia Brewery, located in Mississippi just 13 miles over the state line, considers Louisiana to be a local market. Sales director Alvin Felder described the relationship between the oldest Mississippi brewery and Louisiana in familial terms, saying he “sees Louisiana as a first cousin,” and that he hoped to build up more of a relationship with our state. Lazy Magnolia is just an hour and a half away from Baton Rouge, and features regular tours as well as a party on the first Friday of every month.
The Brewer’s Ball also allowed the chance for newer breweries to shine and stand out. 40 Arpent Brewing Co. is a relatively new brewery crafting beers in Arabi, La. They brought with them their Pineapple Delacroix brew, a special version of their seasonal Delacroix Belgian pale ale. Charles Hall, a brewer and seller for the company, used the opportunity to stir up excitement for the upcoming release of their summer beer: Red Beans & Rice. Out on June 1, this Irish red ale is brewed with actual red beans and rice and also is great when paired with the dish.
Covington Brewhouse, the second oldest brewery in Louisiana, which came under new ownership almost two years ago, featured their new Rock & Roll Summer Ale. President David Arbo happily described upcoming plans for the brewery, which can be toured every Saturday morning. Established on German beers, then expanded with English and Belgian offerings, Covington is now setting its sights on rolling out more, new seasonal flavors in the coming months.
The Abita Beer table offered a display of different hops and malts used by the brewery, as well as access to executives of Louisiana’s oldest and biggest brewery. David Blossman, president of Abita, commended the Pelican House as a venue to drink craft beer and was more than willing to share his thoughts regarding all things beer related. Teasing that it’ll be available “in a bigger way, soon,” Blossman described Abita’s special Bourbon Barrel aged Rye Pale Ale, whose vanilla flavoring plays well with the readiness of rye, allowing the hops to come through. Blossman described his love of brewing and testing out different things and provided insight into technical aspects of brewing to the curious home-brewers who asked.
The Brewer’s Ball provided plenty of opportunities for craft beer fans to get up close and personal with the makers of their favorite beers. Brandi Monjure, who does events and marketing for the Pelican House, said that her favorite part of the event was being able to reach out to all of the owners and brewers and “to see how excited everyone was to connect and mix and mingle.”
The Delta Brewers Ball was a unique opportunity to connect large or small, close or far breweries with local beer enthusiasts as well as up-and-coming brewers—and hopefully for Louisiana’s craft beer community, its success will inspire similar future events.