The next great craft brewing city? – Shreveport Times

If a traveling craft beer lover were to pass through Shreveport-Bossier City during the first few weeks of October, he or she might get the impression our cities could be one of America’s next great craft beer destinations.

With Great Raft Brewing celebrating their two-year anniversary by throwing a day-long annual party called “The Great Raft Ramble” on Oct. 10; BREW: Shreveport’s Beer Festival returning to Festival Plaza on Oct. 17; Flying Heart Brewing introducing “Brews & Boos,” a new, annual fundraiser 5K run that begins and ends at their brewery on Oct. 24; and Red River Brewing Company recently announcing their expansion to include a tasting room at 1200 Marshall Street in downtown Shreveport, our community seems to have all of the ingredients necessary to become a destination for traveling craft beer enthusiasts.

Craft beer has quickly become a juggernaut in the world of tourism.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, craft breweries now outnumber museums and art galleries — a wild statistic, considering that the region is well-known for those museums. VisitRaleigh.com, the website of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, lists a whopping 21 public brewery tours as well as a “beer trail map guide,” a video overview of the local brewery scene and even a special landing page designed to assists tourists in exploring the local breweries.

Portland, Oregon, now has 58 breweries, as well as a robust framework of guided tour services, publications and even beer-themed bed and breakfasts to cater to craft beer tourists.

Shreveport-Bossier won’t rival Portland or Raleigh anytime soon in the number of craft breweries. Louisiana, in fact, ranks 49th in the United States in the number of craft breweries per capita, according to a recent Gannett Louisiana article.

However, with three craft breweries currently up and running, Shreveport-Bossier City ranks behind only the greater New Orleans region in the number of local craft breweries. Baton Rouge currently has one craft brewery; Lafayette has only recently added a craft brewery within city limits, though there are several in the region.

All of this is to say Shreveport-Bossier is off to an incredible running start when it comes to the availability of craft beer. Our local beer has a great reputation, as well. Popular website Thrillist.com recently named Great Raft Brewing the best brewery in Louisiana, becoming the latest in a long list of national publications to applaud that brewery.

Local restaurants have also, to a large extent, seized upon the opportunity presented by local beer. I recently spoke to Grant Nuckolls, owner of Twisted Root Burger Company in Shreveport, about his restaurant’s emphasis on local craft beer.

“We opened with 16 beer taps, and we have 28 now,” Nuckolls said. “One-third of our sales are beers made in Shreveport. I’m proud of that.”

Other restaurants, including places like Rotolo’s Pizzeria locations in Shreveport and Bossier City and Daq’s Wings and Grill in Bossier City, just to name a few, have installed 30 or more taps and placed a special emphasis on local brews.

Whether or not anyone envisioned this five years ago, Shreveport-Bossier is becoming the place to go if you’d like to taste the best craft beer in Louisiana. Just as it has transformed the visitor experience in cities across the country, the huge economic and cultural wave that is craft beer fandom is changing Shreveport-Bossier.

Chris Jay is the public relations and social media manager for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. Email Chris at cjay@sbctb.org.