After going to the Fayetteville Visitors Center to pick up our handy-dandy Ale Trail passport and then checking out a few bonus stop breweries on the Fayetteville Ale Trail, we found ourselves at Fossil Cove Brewing just as they were opening up for the day. Their founder and head brewer, Ben Mills, spent time with us spilling details about the dino-themed brewery before two Arkansas-based bloggers met up with us there for a drink; Woo Pig Brewey! and Fayette Brew. Fossil Cove offers one-off brews that are only available in the taproom and they were also the first brewery in the state of Arkansas to release a sour beer. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the brewery thanks to the unique environment, tasty beers, and great people, so do yourself a favor and check out all the information below then make a trip to Fayetteville to check them out!
The day before my 30th birthday was a rainy (yet awesome) Saturday that started at Yards Brewing Company during their public hours on 3/29/14. As soon as we walked in the door, we were given a free sample of their IPA as well as a wooden chip which was to be redeemed later for a tour of the brewery; the color of the chip determined what time our tour was. Rather than join that tour, we purchased a $5 flight of their beer and met up with brewer Andrew Rutherford who first sat with us to go over a few facts about Yards before taking us through the brewery on a private tour.
We finished out our trek through the state of Louisiana on Monday, 1/20/14, with a visit to NOLA (New Orleans Lager & Ale), located in the Irish Channel right next to the Mississippi River. Kenzie Oescher, their VP of marketing and sales, told us that although ‘lager’ is in the name they don’t actually brew any lagers. However, she went on to tell us that they are working on some recipes for a pale lager right now.
On Saturday, 1/18/14, we headed to a New Orleans neighborhood po-boy shop to fill our stomachs before making the trek 30 miles north across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to Abita Brewing Company for their 2pm Saturday tour. An Abita tour is a truly inimitable experience – a free one hour tour where you pour your own beers at their 15 tap bar (14 beers and 1 for their root beer). Despite ample instruction from the taproom employees, we witnessed many patrons comically demonstrate terrible pouring technique. After some time in the spacious taproom sampling beers and listening to a couple informative videos, the tour group is led into the cavernous brewing facility for a quick rundown on the brewing process and Abita’s productive capacity. Needless to say, the tours are well attended and Kathy Tujague, employee of 23 years and Director of the Visitor Center, shared that they had just over 25,500 people come through the doors in 2013.
Our second brewery visit on Friday, 1/17/14, was to Tin Roof Brewing Co in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, located just a few miles away from LSU (Louisiana State University). Normally the brewery is open for tours on Fridays, but construction crews were up there working hard on some new installments, so the brew master, Tom Daigrepont, and his son Alex, the head brewer, kindly met us up there to give us a personal tour of the facilities.
After leaving Texas, we traveled east on I-10 and paid a visit to Bayou Teche Brewing, located just north of Lafayette, LA in the small Cajun town of Arnaudville. The brewery was opened in 2009 by Karlos Knott and his two brothers, Byron and Dorsey, in a transformed shipping container on the family’s property where they brewed 1 bbl batches on a daily basis, utilizing 6-8 Blichmann 1 bbl fermenters. Growing demand caused them to contract brew with Lazy Magnolia in Mississippi while they worked on expanding operations into the larger facility on the same property that they operate today. Currently, they utilize a 15 bbl brewhouse with 15 and 30 bbl fermenters. Their biere is now available throughout the southeastern United States and also in New York City as New Orleans artists traveling to NYC demanded to have it available and the brewery was contacted by a local distributor. Current head brewer, Gar Hatcher, came by way of Lazy Magnolia to work at Bayou Teche and has been hard at work tweaking recipes and coming up with new offerings.
After a relaxing Sunday, we spent Monday, 1/13/14, at nearby Freetail Brewing Company in north San Antonio. Founder and CEO Scott Metzger teamed up with Head Brewer Jason Davis to create the brewpub over 5 years ago. It is named after the Mexican free-tailed bat which was designated as the state flying mammal by Texas in 1995. Bracken Cave is located less than 30 miles north east of the brewery and is the summer home of an estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats, the largest known colony of bats in the world, providing important pest control and protection for local agriculture. Freetail brewed Save the Cave this past year and donates $5 of each bottle to Bat Conservation International which currently protects the area surrounding Bracken Cave.