So what breweries would I most like to see make it to Louisiana? First off, a few rules... it has to be a realistic choice. We're not any time soon getting 3 Floyds, Russian River, or The Alchemist, or even something like Night Shift Brewing out of Boston. We tried some Night Shift beers at the Beer Bloggers Conference, and they are fantastic, some of the best sours I can remember, but they aren't coming to Louisiana anytime soon. If ever. So... keep it realistic. I'm also excluding a few that I know are on the way... SweetWater, Ballast Point, Santa Fe... that means you guys. You're off the wish list and onto the watch list.
So... the ten breweries I want to see heading this way... in reverse order.
10. Alaskan Brewing Company - Two words: Smoked Porter. Some more words: also a really good Black IPA, and above average session beers in their Amber and White. I'd like to see them here for the Smoked Porter alone, and the rest are just bonus. Odds of them coming? Moderate, they distribute to Texas already and are the 16th largest craft brewery, but they haven't yet hit a lot of bigger markets than LA.
9. Oskar Blues - Great beer, in cans. We need more good canned craft beer and Oskar Blues would fill that niche expertly. Dale's Pale Ale, Deviant Dale's, Old Chub, G'Knight, Gubna, Ten Fidy, etc... great beer, canned. Perfect for outdoor activities! Odds that we see these cans? Decent, I'd say... Oskar Blues is one of the breweries with a second production facility open in North Carolina, so Louisiana might be on the list.
8. Cigar City Brewing - Too low? Maybe... they were ranked #5 recently in a poll of "The 25 Best Craft Breweries in America" put on by The Daily Meal, and they have a huge following among South LA beer geeks due to the popularity of Florida panhandle vacations. I'll be honest though, I find their regular releases to be a little overrated. Just a little though, still worthy of my list, but not top 5. If we were guaranteed some Hunahpu and other limited releases they would jump up. As far as the odds that we see Cigar City anytime soon, I'd have to say they're low. The brewery is getting huge and I have a feeling the East Coast will be on their radar before we will be.
7. Bell's Brewery - Bell's is an example of a brewery that pulls out just about everything exceptionally well. I'd love to have Two Hearted Ale available in bottles and on tap around BR, but that's just scratching the surface. Good stouts, good session beers, and good special releases... Bell's has them all. They already reach into Alabama and Florida, but not into Texas... so here's hoping we don't get skipped over when Bell's decides that a new market is in order.
6. Founders Brewing - Similar to Bell's, Founders is just an all around good brewery. Their standouts include the Founders Breakfast Stout, and its big brother, the Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Founders has also started packaging their All Day IPA in cans, and I'm not opposed to more good canned craft beer in the state, especially one designed as a Session IPA. Founders can already be found in TX, AL, GA, and FL... they're close.
5. Terrapin Beer Company - The second Southern brewery on my list, Terrapin hails from Athens, GA. Athens is of course home to the University of Georgia, and... uh... Terrapin. That's all I've got. I do know that Terrapin puts out some great beer, year-round, seasonal, and special releases. Terrapin has expanded their distribution to 10 states in the South and East... it's not too big of a reach for them to follow SweetWater and distribute our way.
4. Boulevard Brewing - Dark Truth Stout, Double-Wide IPA, Saison Brett, Rye On Rye, Tank 7 Farmhouse, Bourbon Barrel Quad... I could keep going. Boulevard's Smokestack series is what craft beer is all about. Boulevard was the 12th largest craft brewery in 2012, and already has a large presence in Texas. In addition, they distribute to Arkansas, Alabama, and according to their website, one place in Mississippi? I think that gives us decent odds of Louisiana being in the future.
3. Firestone Walker - Boulevard was #12 in 2012, but Firestone Walker wasn't too far behind at #20. Hailing from California wine country (even their name sounds more like a winery), Firestone Walker makes some of the best IPAs around, and they don't stop there, with some fantastic stouts as well. I haven't gotten into their regular lineup much, but if their bigger beers are any indication, I wouldn't be disappointed. They recently expanded to Texas, so Louisiana isn't out of the question. Side note: I've passed a few hundred yards from their Buellton Taproom and didn't stop... I fail at life.
2. Great Divide - I might be playing favorites a little here, but Great Divide has long been a staple of any beer run I made to Texas. It was extremely unlikely that I would be returning without a Yeti or two or three in the car.Or maybe some Hercules... or Old Ruffian Barleywine... this is of course assuming I didn't just drink them all while I was there. The only strike is that Great Divide recently announced they were going to collaborate on some beer-inspired dill pickles. What a waste of beer... fucking pickles... if we see Great Divide in LA anytime soon, I hope they leave the pickles behind!
1. Dogfish Head - This one is a no-brainer for me. Surprisingly Dogfish Head was only the 13th largest craft brewery in 2012, behind #12 Boulevard and #7 Bell's that appeared earlier on my list. I would have guessed they were larger, considering they seem to be everywhere, well everywhere except Louisiana. I'd have DFH in my fridge at all times if they were available... mostly 90-Minute but it's not their only worthy beer, not even close. Odds they make it here? I'd say it's going to happen eventually... craft beer keeps on growing and DFH is one of the front-runners. They recently brought their beer back to several states, hopefully that means expansion is on tap next.
And there you have my top 10 breweries I want to see in Louisiana. Feel free to disagree, curse me, call me an idiot, tell me I have terrible taste, or preferably, tell me what YOU would have picked instead. Just try to play by the same rules, I know we'd all love to have Heady Topper cans available, but it's not going to happen.