Inside Istrouma Brewing, the new ‘art-farm’ brewery in the Capital Region

Pulling up to Istrouma Brewing, it’s easy to see how different this brewery experience will be for visitors.

The barn-turned-brewery is surrounded by beautiful land, horses and gorgeous landscaping at Sugar Farms, a working farm in St. Gabriel that also houses Feed & Seed restaurant, an art gallery and more.

Once inside the brewery, memorabilia color the walls, along with tables made out of pianos, seating in old hollowed-out cars, and paintings made on old doors.

Istrouma Brewing owner John Haynes, general manager Tadd Swart and most of the other staff at the brewery started off as home brewers. Years later, they’ve accomplished their dreams of creating something bigger, with an extensive list of in-house beers.

But that’s not all they have in store for visitors.

“The interesting thing about what we’re doing here is creating a kind of ‘art farm’ atmosphere,” Haynes says.

There are lots of livestock on the Sugar Farms grounds for customers to see when they aren’t trying the beer. The resident Texas longhorn is a big hit, along with goats, which Istrouma Brewing also uses to make its own cheeses.

Almost every piece or item used as decor in the farmhouse brewery has a story, Haynes says. He talks about driving through Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and seeing a piano discarded on the side of the road, and then shows us a table made out of the same piano.

One of the standout items is an old pickup truck with the inside cabin turned into a small booth for guests. The chairs in the brewery’s seating area are also from one of the oldest diners in Chicago.

“When we travel,” Haynes says, “we enjoy bringing things home. Whether it’s a little something you can put in your pocket or a piece of furniture, we love the idea of repurposing things.”

Right now, the brewery brews all its beers in-house. Customers can see the brewing room through a small window by the back patio. 

The brewery has an extensive list of beers. The fan favorites stay on tap pretty constantly, but Istrouma is constantly changing up what it offers. From sours to stouts to blondes to farmhouse ales, the menu is never-ending. 

Istrouma is also barrel aging some of its brews, and the barrels are housed along the back wall of the patio.

When it comes to ingredients in the beers, Istrouma is all about locally sourced. So local, in fact, some are grown just down the street. The honey, which is used in some brews, is sourced from the area. The greens, edible flowers and garlic chives used to make homemade pizzas at Feed & Seed are from a farm just down Bayou Paul Road, and the mushrooms are from a farm in St. Francisville. 

“The point is, we want to have a place to tell a story,” Haynes says. “I think people will appreciate and respond to that.”

In the coming weeks, Haynes and his staff hope to have artists, live music and singer-songwriter events, and even show some movies in the large, open outdoor space.

“We’re planting seeds of art and cultivating that in whatever form it comes to us,” Swart says.

Istrouma Brewing is at 5590 Bayou Paul Road in St. Gabriel, and is open Thursday, 4-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.