Tight regulations have held Louisiana behind the national craft brewing curve for years, but the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild is working on it

From big names like Abita to small startups, dozens of brewers across the state meet quarterly and throw their clout behind efforts to boost the industry with legal changes. The Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild emphasizes networking, collaborating and lobbying, and director Cary Koch is on the ground here in Baton Rouge lobbying state leaders at the Capitol.

What are the Guild’s goals?

Every brewery has their own set of goals and bullet points, but we can all agree on a few main goals: the fundraising aspect, the collaborations aspect and some law changes that we think could happen to expand growth.

Aside from connections with other brewers, what resources does the Guild offer?

We just signed on our 10th allied member. [Allied members] are industry partners: hops suppliers, malt suppliers, welding supply companies, marketing companies. We’re going to do regional socials around the state to meet our allied members—and especially for those members who are brewers in planning, that’s huge, because they don’t have all those components together yet.

How does the Guild help new brewers get started?

We’re creating a template. If you want to be a manufacturer, here’s your step A, B, C, D. Here are your permits. Here are the departments—health department, ATC—you’ll deal with. It’s not just, ‘Oh, I want to open a brewery, I’ll get an LLC.’ They know that, but sometimes the brewers are so focused on the beer that the business aspect of it comes as an afterthought, but it needs to be together. We’re hopefully creating a culture around that.

The Guild has been around since 2011, but it’s become much more politically involved since you came on board in 2016. What changes have you seen in the relationship between legislators and brewers?

We had a Louisiana beer day at the Capitol, and we had 23 breweries represented. Legislators were meeting brewers from their districts for the first time. They may not be for breweries in their districts, but knowing that there is a business that is thriving or at least present changes their perspective. Now [legislators] take into account, ‘How would this affect craft brewing?’

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This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.