Southern Craft Brewing Co. has started construction on a brewery and taproom in the Barringer Foreman Technology Park, with hopes of selling its brews in local bars and restaurants in early 2016.

Joseph Picou and Wes Hedges, two local engineers and award-winning homebrewers, founded Southern Craft. Along with building the brewery and tap room at 14141 Airline Highway, they’re finalizing an agreement with a local distributor. The goal is to have Southern Craft’s beers in bars and restaurants in the first quarter and open the taproom in the second.

“What we want to do here is focus on Southern and local ingredients, to use as many local ingredients as possible,” Picou said. “The name of the company reflects what we want to do. We want to have a Southern ring to our beers and make a handcrafted product.”

Picou wouldn’t say yet what type of beers Southern Craft will initially launch with.

Despite the booming popularity of craft beer and the fondness Louisiana residents have for good food and drink, the state has lagged behind development of microbreweries. The only craft brewer in Baton Rouge is Tin Roof Brewing Co., which was launched in 2010. According to the Brewers Association, a national trade group, Louisiana had 15 craft breweries in 2014, which breaks out to 0.5 breweries per 100,000 adults. That ranked Louisiana 49th in the nation.