There is nothing like a "Produced in the
USA" tag on a food product to remind us of our country's
agricultural roots. Since pre-colonial days, beer has been part
of the American culture. Native Americans brewed a type of beer
from corn, birch sap and water. But beer as we know it today
began with the brewing traditions brought from England and the
Netherlands in Colonial days. Ale was the traditional brews
found in early pubs. Then in the 19th century, German immigrants
brought with them a culture of creating lagers.
Prohibition ground small fledgling
breweries to a halt as well as the big boys. After the repeal of
the Volstead Act, most brewers that reopened were the giant
wasn't until the 1970 that the craft beer movement really took
off. Today, with everyone more conscious of what is in what they
eat and drink, craft brewing is coming into its own. I found a
great craft brewer in Shreveport, Louisiana on a recent press
|Andrew explains what makes a
great craft beer
Great Raft Brewers opened in October 2013
as the first brewery in Shreveport since prohibition. It's been
cutting a huge swath across the state ever since.
Andrew Nations, co-founder, led our tour. Andrew and his
wife and co-founder, Lindsey, grew up in Shreveport. Both had a
love of craft beer and began dabbling with it in DC where they
were working. They decided to give up their technology careers
and return to their roots in Shreveport and open a craft
Andrew explained the choice of a company
name. "Great Raft is n reference to the great river raft in the
1830s that was basically a log jam that was over 100 miles long
and so dense you could walk on it across the river from
Shreveport to Bossier City. The Corp of Engineers hired a man
named Henry Shreve to break it up and restore commercial
shipping on the Red River."
Andrew walked us through the process in
detail. Great Raft Brewery uses traditional ingredients and some
of the German techniques. The processing only takes about 8
hours but the fermenting takes about a month.
|Always wondered what hops looked
like before they get processed in beer
are a small brewery and make batches of 20 barrels, which makes
about 700 gallons. Beer starts with good water. Shreveport
doesn't have the best so when they brew, they strip out all of
minerals and add back only what they like to get control so a
Great Raft Beer will always taste the same. He explained that
hops are added to counteract the sweetness created by the
marriage of sugar and yeast.
|Andrew shows us some malt
||One of the finished products
The grain left from the first processing is
mostly given to a local farmer to feed his stock. A portion of
the spent grain processed is also give to Drake catering who
adds flour, honey and peanut butter and makes dog treats. Don't
consider taking your dog to AA as there is no alcohol left in
the grain. Great Raft
then packages the treats and sells them in the tasting room.
One hundred percent of
the monry goes to local animal shelters. Great Raft co-founder
and vice-president, Lindsay Nations, commented in a news
release. "Great Raft has been trying to find a way to get the
Doggie Beer Biscuit program off the ground for months and Drake
Catering shares the same care for the local animal population
that we do. This is a wonderful opportunity to make something
beneficial from otherwise useless grains, and we hope the
program will help the local Humane Society to do more of the
wonderful work they already do saving and re-homing area dogs."
|Bar in Great Raft's tasting room
In the short time they have been open,
Great Raft Brewery had garnered a nice collections of honors.
Food and Wine Magazine
named their At Arms Length as one of 50 of the best lagers in
America. Playboy Magazine
concurred and named At Arms Length one of the ten best beers
from the Deep South.
Southern Living included them in the South's Best Breweries.
And these are just a few. I heartly agree, and aside from the
beer, Great Raft is a fun place just to visit. There are parties
and events held that that are even more fun.
|There was a great mucisian
playing when we visited
The Tasting Room is open Thursday from 4-8
pm, and Friday and Saturday from 12-9 pm. Food trucks are always
on site during our hours of operation. Free tours are available
on Saturdays at 1, 2 and 3 pm and last approximately 20-30
minutes. You can sign up the day of at the brewery. Each tour is
limited to 25 people and you must register in person so come
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