How a Feral Hippo Inspired a Tasty Craft Beer from Red River Brewing Company

A post on Red River Brewing Company’s Facebook page caught my eye today. It read:

“River Monster sighted on E. 70th St in Shreveport! We have our first special limited release this afternoon starting at 3:00pm at Rotolo’s. If you like hops, you will want to try the River Monster. It is an American IPA at 5% ABV and 65 IBUs. It is named after the Caddo Lake resident monster first sighted in the late 1960’s. There are only 30 gallons of this special release available.”

I could be wrong, but I believe the Red River Brewing Company folks were referring to the Cross Lake hippo, a historically-documented, “strange but true” tale that dates back to the mid-1920s, not the late 1960s. According to the fantastic book, Shreveport, by the late historian Eric Brock, a hermit living on Cross Lake purchased a baby hippopotamus and raised it in a secluded cove. The hermit’s plan was to raise the hippo, which he’d purchased for $25, and sell it to a zoo for a profit. A fisherman named Jake Carnahan nearly spoiled that plan when, while fishing in June 1928, he spotted “a huge beast, blowing water from its nostrils.” Word quickly spread, and the “beast” was hunted and captured.

If you’d like to know how the saga of the Cross Lake hippo ends, you’ll just have to buy the book. Let’s just say that the hippo ends up being sold to a well-known zoo, netting a tidy profit for the hermit and causing anglers on Cross Lake to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

If you’re more interested in the beer, you may be out of luck – only 30 gallons were brewed. But, if you act fast, you could luck into a pint at Rotolo’s Pizzeria Shreveport. As Shreveport-Bossier’s beer enthusiasts prepare to celebrate the arrival of two local craft breweries (Great Raft Brewing and Red River Brewing Company) this Winter, these sorts of limited-release events provide a “sneak peek” at the experience of drinking local beer. It’s worth pointing out that the pint of Great Raft’s Reasonably Corrupt black lager sold at Zocolo Neighborhood Eatery on Oct. 15 was the first locally-brewed pint of beer to be sold legally in Shreveport since the advent of Prohibition. That’s a big development for Shreveport-Bossier, considering the rising popularity of craft beer.

If you’d like to get caught up on the current status of the local breweries, check out the following links:

Great Raft Brewing’s blog post, “You’ve Got Questions…We’ve Got Answers” 
Red River Brewing Company’s Facebook page, where they regularly post news
The Rotolo’s Pizzeria Shreveport Facebook page – with 31 craft beers on tap, they’re in the know


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