Joe Picou and Wes Hedges set up their tent on a warm and sunny April afternoon in 2016. The two home-brewers turned brewery owners were about to debut the first batches of Baton Rouge’s second commercial brewery, Southern Craft Brewing, to more than 2,000 eager beer lovers at the Zapp’s International Beer Festival at the LSU Rural Life Museum.
Picou and Hedges poured samples of their Red Stick Rye and Pompous Pelican double IPA that day, and shortly thereafter landed their two flagship ales in local restaurants and bars.
It’s been a whirlwind ever since.
In under a year's time, the brewery has expanded into other south Louisiana markets, launched several new beers and opened a tasting room at the brewery.
On Saturday, Southern Craft will host a one-year anniversary celebration at their tasting room, 14141 Airline Hwy, Suite 4J, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. All of the Southern Craft flagship and seasonal beers will be available on tap, as well as some special one-off taproom only beers such as a blood orange version of Pompous Pelican, raspberry Swamp Sting and espresso Swamp Sting.
The event will also feature food from Secret Lair Taqueria and Dat'z Italian as well as music from Michael Brandt Scallan, and Taylor Nauta and Katie Kenney.
Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Each ticket includes 8 beer samples, a Southern Craft anniversary souvenir glass and chargrilled oysters and tacos or pizza. Designated driver tickets are also available for $10 in advance, $15 at the door, and feature food, nonalcoholic beverages and a souvenir glass.
A portion of the proceeds from the anniversary event will benefit the Heritage Ranch Christian Children’s Home.
The brewery has a lot to celebrate.
In the last year, Southern Craft expanded both east and west. The duo's beers can now be found on draft from Lafayette all the way to Slidell, and as far south as Houma and Thibodaux.
Still, in little time, the Baton Rouge brewery has expanded its beer lineup. Swamp Sting was launched as a summer seasonal last June, and quickly became such a favorite that it's now a flagship beer. This light ale is brewed with locally sourced honey and is an easy drinker.
Another new beer is Citeaux, a coffee oatmeal stout brewed with locally roasted Cafeciteaux Coffee, whose beans are roasted next door to the brewery.
Southern Craft also just released the seasonal Hyla, a hop-centric IPA made with Appalachian wheat, which adds more body to the beer without overpowering the hops. Nearly all of the Citra and Amarillo hops are added after the boil, giving the beer a tropical and citrusy aroma and flavor with an easy finish.
So what's next for this young brewery? Picou said an expansion into the New Orleans market is in the works, and even Southern Craft beers in cans "as soon as this summer," he said.
For more information on Southern Craft Brewing, visit socraftbeer.com.