Imagine yourself sitting back at a barbecue surrounded by the people you love (and maybe a few that get on your last nerve). Imagine yourself out by the pool on a hot Louisiana day. Imagine yourself shooting pool at your favorite local dive. Now, imagine your beverage of choice for all these events. What is it? If it’s not a craft beer from a local brewery, you’re missing out.

May 15-21 is American Craft Beer Week and local breweries in the Shreveport-Bossier City area are ready to celebrate. This is an exciting time for craft brewers to salute their expertise. From beginner craft beer drinkers to lifelong enthusiasts, American Craft Beer Week is the perfect time to take part in local activities centered on the specialty beverages created in our own community.

SB Magazine got to chat with the owners of the three breweries located in the SBC to find out more about their passion: brewing.

Great Raft Brewing
1251 Dalzell St.
Shreveport, LA 71103

Hours: 4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday
12-9 p.m. Saturday

Owners: Andrew and Lindsay Nations

May 13 — Lager Logger 5k
May 18 — Great Raft Fun Run
May 15-21 — American Craft Beer Week (Great Raft will have something every day
in the market/at the tasting room)

Interview with Andrew Nations

SB: Why start a brewery?

AN: We have a passion for beer and felt Shreveport deserved a world-class production brewery. So many people think of beer as only industrial light lager. We wanted to change that and build a brand Shreveport could be proud of. We’ve been home brewing since 2008 and Great Raft sold our first beer in October of 2013.

SB: How is your beer connected to the local area?

AN: From day one of planning, we knew we wanted to be connected with Shreveport, but also relatable on a regional level. Our name is a nod to Shreveport’s past and our beer often uses local ingredients such as honey, rice, mayhaws and peaches. The clearing of the Great Raft log jam was the beginning of a prosperous time for Shreveport, and we wanted Great Raft Brewing to be the beginning of a prosperous time for craft beer in our region.

SB: What’s unique about your beer?

AN: Our obsession with quality. We make significant investments usually not seen at our scale. It’s critictal to have consistent quality — ensuring the beer you love in the tasting room is the same when you have it at your favorite bars and restaurants around the region.

SB: Which beer was your first craft beer?

AN: Reasonably Corrupt Black Lager. It was the first locally produced beer sold in Shreveport since Prohibition.

SB: Is working at a brewery different from how you thought it would be?

AN: For the most part, no. It’s hard work, but we spent nearly two years researching, talking to other brewery owners, building the business plan and preparing ourselves as much as possible. There have certainly been surprises along the way, but we had a pretty good idea of what we were getting ourselves into. We also have an awesome team that understands our company culture and bring our same passion to work every day.

SB: What efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly?

AN: Canning our beer has to be the most significant. Cans are lighter and recyclable in Shreveport (it doesn’t recycle glass). Cans are lighter than bottles, reduce CO2 emissions in shipping and are incredibly recyclable.

SB: Which beer would you suggest to a first time visitor?

AN: Come visit our tasting room Wednesday through Saturday. Here, you can get a more in-depth look at things during our free tours on Saturdays. We try not to come with any pre-conceived notions of what any one customer would like — regardless of where they are in their beer journey. Beer can be a lot of different things and we encourage customers to come with an open mind and clean palate to try our different offerings and see what best suits them.