Skip to content
Abita in the news

Abita Brewing: Louisiana Life, in a Can

About 30 miles north of New Orleans, in Abita Springs, Louisiana, the Abita Brew Pub sits on the original site of Abita Brewing, which opened its doors in 1986. The brewery quickly outgrew this site, and in 1994, Abita Brewing moved about three miles up the road into a state-of-the-art brewery that now produces over 151,000 barrels of beer and 9,100 barrels of their famous root beer. Their popular lagers and ales are still brewed in small, hand-crafted batches. Quite the success story, it is the perfect example of how a dedicated and passionate team of brewery professionals combines quality, community and pride in what they do to continually grow and increase demand for their unique, hand-crafted beers and sodas.

  The Abita Brew Pub is now family-run but remains closely connected to the brewery. The brewpub serves all traditional Abita offerings and is a priority account for new releases. Additionally, the brewpub serves food, some containing Abita beers in the recipes, while also providing expert advice on pairing Abita beers with different foods. Visitors can experience Abita Brewing’s historical roots while enjoying live music, great food and patio games, and they can also sign up for interactive events like Abita’s Painting on the Patio. 

  “It really is a museum of Abita’s history, and just like walking back into 1986,” said Heidi Guerra, vice president of marketing for Abita Brewing. “The brewpub still contains Abita’s original tanks, signage and historical memorabilia, and all of the photos, articles and signage on the walls illustrate Abita’s roots. It’s a really cool vibe and kept fresh while maintaining and paying homage to Abita’s beginnings. Then, you can drive probably less than three miles down the street to see the full brewery as it is today. The brewpub has all our beers on tap and in bottles and offers a wide selection of our brands. Unlike the brewery, where we bring in rotating local food trucks, the brewpub can pair your choice of beer with food from their full kitchen. The brewpub also uses our beer in its recipes and dressings. It’s a great way to learn about the styles of beer and experience how different beers pair with different foods. The brewpub is located directly in the town square, so it’s really a cute place to visit and just step back in time.”

Local Ingredients, Artesian Spring Water and Community Involvement Are Key

  “Hands down, we will always use local farmers and source ingredients locally where we can,” said Guerra. “This community has made us what we are, so there’s no question that we will help our community whenever and wherever possible. We use local produce like Louisiana strawberries and pecans in our beers. And I think that makes us unique in some ways, that we brew these high-quantity beers while continually sourcing local ingredients and helping our local farmers. It’s true to our roots. We like to consider ourselves Louisiana through and through, so one of our initiatives is to source locally. We’ve used Louisiana oysters in our oyster stout and Louisiana coffee beans in our coffee beers. Using pure, local ingredients in our beers and craft beverages instead of flavorings keeps our products exceptionally fresh. By sticking with natural ingredients, we don’t get that sugary, fruity, hard candy-type of flavor profile that some others do.”

  “And, of course, the water,” said Guerra. “Who could forget our water? It’s pristine, pure Artesian spring water drawn from our Southern Hills Aquifer. It’s a unique point of difference for us. We drill straight down into the system. The water is amazing. It’s the perfect pH for brewing. It’s also untreated, and when you research Abita and the water, you’ll run across stories about the water containing healing and medicinal properties. It really is a difference-maker, and here in Louisiana, we know how important the water is, so it leads us into being good environment stewards for the community.”

  Abita Brewing is proud to be a good steward of the environment and its community. Guerra says they regularly offer special releases in support of different causes and initiatives close to home.

  “We were one of the first breweries to donate money from beer sales after Hurricane Katrina happened, in the amount of a half million dollars,” said Guerra. “And we have rotating beer taps at our brewery for our Son-of-a-Saint initiative, helping fatherless boys in our city. That one is always on rotation in the brewery. But suppose someone comes to us with a cause. In that case, we will support that initiative, whether it’s donating beer, letting them use our facility for a fundraiser or in some other way. We brewed beer to raise funds to support Sierra Nevada during wildfires. We’ve supported the Pink Boots Society. We consider all initiatives brought to us and look to give back to the community. They’re the reason we are here.”

Passionate Employees & Open-Door Policies Keep Abita Brewing Fresh and Innovative

  Abita Brewing remains locally owned and operated throughout its tremendous success and continued growth. The passion and success of its employees are reflected in the diverse products and in-demand Abita beverage options.

  “We have a complete open-door policy,” said Guerra. “All ideas are welcome, no matter how far-reaching they may be. Employees can always text or call me. I have a whiteboard in my office where employees are free to jot down ideas for beers, names or whatever. And they do that. Our employees have a passion for craft brewing and for the industry. We have a Culture on Tap committee to ensure we’re listening to employees and giving back to them. We buy into them and their goals just as much as they buy into us and our goals. We meet every month and hear their ideas about everything, including employee appreciation, but it’s all about having a team that’s passionate about the industry. We work hard to play hard, and our team, from top to bottom, is always ready and willing to explore new ideas, packaging designs, flavor profiles and more. Our employees get excited about new things. Pictures get circulated as soon as someone sees something new in the brewery, and text messages fly around. We have really great communication amongst all of the employees.”

  Guerra says that problems are met with an all-hands-on-deck approach, which is demonstrated by the fact that she keeps her safety gear nearby in case there is a problem in the brewery that requires more hands.

The Ability to Play While Remaining True to the Brand Are Core Principles

  “Our brewers love playing around with things,” said Guerra. “Abita has a pilot brew system that we call the brewer’s playground, where they can play and experiment with different taste and flavor profiles or styles they want to explore. They are very creative and make time to work through whatever whim or idea pops into their head. They are also very open to whatever ideas others bring to them.

  “The Fluffernutter beer was an idea that stemmed from my son having a Fluffernutter sandwich at a friend’s house,” said Guerra. “They got to making it into a beer and putting it on tap, and people loved it in the taproom, so our Fluffernutter beer went into production. That shows how open and reactive our brewers are to new ideas. They listen, but then they get to work to make the ideas come to life and see if they work. You know, we were brewing fruit and high ABV beers in the 90s before it was cool, so we don’t mind taking a risk on certain things. But we do it in the format of playing around with it in the brewery, putting it on tap and seeing how people react to it. But at the end of the day, we still want to focus on our core brands for mass production because that’s what got us here, and that happens to be our fruited beers like Purple Haze, Strawberry Lager and our high ABV beers like Andygator®.”

  Guerra tells Beverage Master Magazine that they’ve been brewing their root beer since the 90s, and it remains their most sought-after soda. “Root beer is perfect for brewing,” said Guerra. “We use Louisiana sugar cane for an authentic Louisiana flavor and great taste. It’s really a great product, and it’s gone international, which is great and crazy at the same time. The root beer is our main soda, but we also do a vanilla crème soda as our root beer’s wingman. During seasonal times, we’ll make a King Cake soda. We do soda tours so kids can have a soda flight and feel involved when their family is here. We also have an NA option, our Hop Water, so we do dabble in other things. It’s available on our website and locally here in Louisiana, but for the most part, we like to stay within ourselves, creating brand extensions off of the products that we know and love.”

Sustainability and Green Principles Are Included in Every Facet of Abita’s Brewing Process

  Abita has a long history of energy conservation, recovery and reuse. Its brewhouse utilizes a self-sustaining EquiTherm system, wherein they capture the heat of their brew kettle exhaust system and combine it with heat produced during the wort cool down. That recaptured heat gets reused to heat water, creating an efficient cycle without biogas. Abita also has its own industrial wastewater treatment plant that generates energy. They use a Bio-Energy Recovery System (BERS) to treat their wastewater, resulting in a 95 percent reduction of load on the local sewage system and a reduction of solid landfill waste.

  From Abita’s glass packaging to its truck delivery fleet, Abita uses processes to reduce materials and decrease emissions. Local farmers utilize the spent grain and hops from the brewing process as feed for their cattle.

Abita’s Future Is Exciting, Innovative & Tasty

  “A lot is happening at the brewery right now,” said Guerra. “We just completed a brand refresh for our Strawberry Lager. We have our Beeracuda coming out in cans now rather than just bottles. And we’ve deemed this year “The Year of the Gator.” So, the focus is on our Andygator®, an easy-drinking, high ABV Helles Doppelbock, our Strawgator, a combination of our Strawberry Lager and Andygator®, resulting in another flavored high ABV and Alphagator, our nine percent ABV double IPA. This gives us an awesome gator trio to offer to consumers.”

Guerra said that because Abita Brewing is known for its fruit beers, it just makes sense that it also offers a new berry variety pack. The new pack includes their popular Purple Haze®, Barney, Strawberry and Blueberry flavors in a 12-ounce can variety package.

  “Other than that, we’ll continue to play around and see if something hits,” said Guerra. “We’ve been at this craft brewing stuff for about four decades, and we’re still excited about being in the industry and hope to be involved for another four decades, at least, because we truly love what we do. Not only are we a craft brewery but also a Louisiana craft brewery, so our big thing is just putting Louisiana life in a bottle. For those who are here, have visited Louisiana or want a taste of Louisiana, we continue to try to put it out there for them. We are a craft brewery, but we are also an advocate for the state.”\

Source: Beverage Master

Written by: Gerald Dlubala

Link to article:

Connect with Abita

Check us out @abitabrewery