Brasseurs a la Maison’s beer-dispensing canoe at last year’s Zapp’s International Beer Festival. Courtesy Paul Waguespack
The Zapp’s International Beer Festival returns to LSU’s Rural Life Museum this month with a huge range of beers for patrons to sample. Even though the event is limited to only 2,000 attendees, each year seems to bring a mad rush of people wanting to get in and try out the seemingly endless selection.
Besides big-name beer brewers that all distribute in Louisiana and a solid representation of local breweries like Abita, Tin Roof and NOLA Brewing, the beer fest is also a chance for members of several homebrewing clubs to share their hobby (and its delicious results) with locals.
We talked to members of Brasseurs a la Maison—the homebrewing club that will be bringing back its famed beer-dispensing canoe equipped with more than 30 taps—about their favorite brews and how to do the beer fest right.
How he started brewing beer at home: “My sister gave me a homebrewing kit in 1988 [while I was in medical school]. This was before all the homebrew stores. She always found some obscure gift to give me for Christmas, and this was her gift that year.”
What he likes about the beer fest: “You’ll see coffee or mango or pineapple-flavored beers. It’s almost overwhelming what kind of creativity and variety there is at just one booth alone. And they’re all good beers. That’s what’s impressed me the most.”
What he brews:He likes to experiment with different beers, but his go-to is a pale ale that he’s perfected over the years and dubs the Panola Pale Ale. “It’s a good-quality session beer. If all you want to do is have a refreshing beer to drink with crawfish or watch a game, this is the beer.”
Day job: Civil engineer
Why he likes being part of a homebrewing club: “I like the gear [used to brew beer]. I like the connection to science. We’ve got doctors and engineers as well as some hippies, too, in our club. We all have a good time with it.”
What he’s crafted for previous beer fests: A honey wheat beer, a Scotch ale, and last year, a chocolate milk stout.
His favorite to make: “I generally prefer wheat beers. I like having something to drink after cutting the grass that’s more refreshing.”
Advice for doing the beer fest right: “Pace yourself. Just in our tent alone you can try around 40 beers. Even if you get a small pour, that’s still a lot. Take your time and eat a lot before you go.”
Day job: Job search manager
Favorite brew he’s made with the club: “One of our guys got a 50-gallon Jack Daniels barrel, and we brewed an imperial stout that then went into the barrel.”
What he likes about the club: Working together to develop interesting batches of beer. “A lot of it is small group stuff—we do some large projects every once in a while. I’ve got a couple projects going on with two, three, four guys all at the same time. It provides a great avenue to exchange ideas and hang out and do all that.”
Advice for doing the beer fest right: “Use the opportunity to try stuff you haven’t tried before, or be adventurous and just try the homebrews. None of the homebrewed beers there are sold anywhere.”
How homebrewers spend their day at beer fest: “We enjoy serving the beer so much, we were really taken aback by how fun it was just to be behind the booth. No one really ever leaves our little booth. If we want to drink, we have 32 options to try. Most likely you will find us pulling the beer and talking to people about it and being excited about it.”
ABOUT THE BEER FESTIVAL:
• Saturday, March 21. 3:30 p.m.-6 p.m.
• LSU’s Rural Life Museum on Essen Lane
• $35 per person
• Only 2,000 tickets available, and you must be 21 to attend. • Call 765-2437 for more information, or visit rurallife.lsu.edu.