Great Raft Brewing Company, a craft brewery slated to open somewhere in Shreveport-Bossier in 2013, participated in “Beer, Bites and Blues: A Beer and Food Pairing Event” at Twine Shreveport last night. Guests were allowed to sample three Great Raft Brewing beers – a saison, an American pale ale and a Belgian pale ale – while enjoying a creative menu of “bar bites” created by Twine’s new chef, Michael OBoyle. Great Raft co-founders Andrew and Lindsay Nations engaged local beer aficionados about the beers they plan to offer at the craft brewery. I overheard Andrew describing the process of infusing Great Raft’s saison brew with the surprisingly refreshing presence of pine needles picked from his back yard in Spring Lake, and joking with animators from Moonbot Studios about creating a special Moonbot brew.
While I’m no expert on beer (let’s just say my budget is more accommodating to Pabst Blue Ribbon than Westvleteren 12), last night’s event was another reminder of just how much local enthusiasm there is for craft beer, and how much anticipation has already built up around the opening of Great Raft. Local beer lovers seem more than ready to have a hometown brew to call their own, and reaction to the sample tastes poured last night seemed to be uniformly positive.
The brewing company’s name refers to the 165-mile logjam cleared by Captain Henry Miller Shreve, making the Red River navigable in the 1830s. 165 miles is also the approximate distance to the nearest craft brewery, if you live in Shreveport-Bossier. Craft brewing has exploded in recent years, to the extent that the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery. If last night’s sold-out sneak peek at Great Raft Brewing was any indicator, Great Raft should have a great year.