Within a year, northeastern Louisiana is slated to be home to not one but three breweries.
Ouachita Brewing Co., Cotton Port Brewing and Flying Tiger Brewery each plan a different approach to business, and each are in different stages of readiness to open. All are still in the permitting process with The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and not yet open.
“Anything can affect that,” Heath Lord, founder of Ouachita Brewing Co., said. “It’s kind of like the IRS. They’re involved, and it is what it is, and you leave it alone. You really want to make sure that you support the ATC and the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) as much as you can because their jobs are hard enough. We want to make sure that we can appreciate the work that they put into this to keep industry standards protected.”
So far, seven men in northeastern Louisiana have decided to leverage a passion for homebrewing into a business, and they bring a range of experience to the task.
“Who doesn’t want to turn a hobby that they’re passionate about into their full-time job and be able to do something they love every day?” said James E. Simpson, one of three partners in Flying Tiger Brewery. “It’s about brewing beer, but there’s a creative aspect to it. Mixing and matching recipes. Finding the right hops or the right style of beer for the right malt. There’s a creative outlet for me through it. But it’s also a passion. Why not quit your job and decide to brew beer for a living? Who wouldn’t want to do that?
“There’s a culture that surrounds us, too, of great people. I’ve learned this in the past year with visiting other breweries and getting to know the people in the industry. These people stand united, and it’s about uplifting each other. While sales are going to be competitive, the people in this industry reach out and want to help each other because they want to see every brewery be successful.”
Ouachita Brewing Co.
Lord already has been issued a permit from The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and is no longer considered a homebrewer. He is a malt beverage manufacturer, and he plans to start production in the third quarter.
“Our system will be here in a couple of weeks, so we will be manufacturing as soon as we receive our final permits and labeling approvals,” he said.
Lord said he plans to launch the business with one or two varieties of beer, including his Louisiamber, the flagship amber ale.
“That has gone over very, very well,” Lord said. “It has won two awards. We’re going to continue with that.”
Initially, he said, the beers will be available only at local restaurants that serve tap beer, not canned or bottled in retail stores. He plans to offer four or five beers in an on-site taproom. “I’ve got several recipes that have won awards, and we will probably start off with those,” he said.
He encourages people to go to the Ouachita Brewing Co. Facebook page and offer recommendations about what beers they’d like to try.
“That kind of survey is really important for us because each beer we put out, we want to make sure that we meet a demand,” he said.
Lord said a major focus is quality control. He tests the brews at three stages — after the primary fermentation, after the secondary fermentation and after it’s gone into the keg.
“I taste everything that goes out, and if it just tastes off, it just doesn’t go out,” he said. “If something come off not matching the profiles I have set for these beers, then it’s not going to hit the market.”
Overall, Lord said, the goal of his business is to encourage economic growth and tourism for the area.
“We want to be able to create good stable jobs in the area,” he said. “We want to be able to give back to the community and grow the culture in a positive way. It’s not about the beer.
“It’s about the love and adoration that we have for our community and what we can do for future generations coming forward. It’s the passion for that and the passion for the people — so many great people in Monroe. Northeast Louisiana has every bit of culture to offer the rest of the state. It’s just undermarketed and undercapitalized, so we want to be able to do that. Beer is just the vessel we’re going to use to deliver that culture.”
Cotton Port Brewing
Troy Duguay Sr., Troy Duguay Jr. and Will Cook plan to open an event-driven venue in northeastern Louisiana. The three are homebrewers for now, but Troy Duguay Sr. said their business is in the “final stages of opening” and is scheduled to open in the fall, pending ATC approval.
Troy Duguay Sr. said he’s been a homebrewer since 1989, and his partners started more recently.
He said Cotton Port plans to make old-fashioned session beers, those with low-alcohol content, and noted a desire to stay away from “funky” craft brews.
The partners pick the brews’ names based on historical references and landmarks of northeastern Louisiana, Troy Duguay Sr. said, explaining the cotton port is what made Monroe the city it is.
Cotton Port offered four options at Brewfest, held June 6 at the Downtown RiverWalk — Cotton Top Kolch, Broken Levee IPA, Prohibition Cream Ale and Blackwater Dry Stout. He said the cream ale and lighter beers were ” a hit.”
Flying Tiger Brewery
Simpson, Robert Brewer and David Johnson have been working to launch Flying Tiger Brewery for about a year, and Simpson said they went public at Brewfest. Brewer said Flying Tiger is “still in the becoming stage” and is not yet a commercial brewery. All beer produced is still homebrew.
Simpson said he’s been a homebrewer for a little more than two years. He credits working in the restaurant and bar business for his love of beer and developed palate. He introduced Brewer to homebrewing about a year ago.
“I think like most people, outside of Abita, we didn’t have a lot of exposure to local craft beer in this area until very, very recently,” Brewer said. “I think that has helped me grow an appreciation for what goes on when making beer and craft beer. This was all new to me, and I’ve come to enjoy this process. … gaining an appreciation for the craft of tinkering it and the art of making beer. It’s every bit as much an art as it is a science.”
Simpson said as a homebrewer, he had made eight or 10 styles of beer, and the owners plan to open the company with four or five flagships, one of which will be a rotating seasonal.
“This summer, we’ve been playing with peach wheat beer, he said. “I went and picked Ruston peaches myself for the beer.
“Once we get operational as a business, we want to source as many local ingredients as possible. We want to use Ruston peaches. We want to use local sweet potatoes. We want to get as local of sugarcane as possible.”
The name of the business itself celebrates the Flying Tigers, the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–42 led by Monroe Gen. Claire Lee Chennault. Simpson said they talked to Nell Calloway, Chennault’s granddaughter and received her permission before using the name.
“I think it’s important for people to know that we’re not just brewing beer and we’re not just opening a business,” Simpson said. “We’re trying to add to the renovation of downtown Monroe, and we’re trying to create a destination. When I go out of town, I go to breweries. When I am traveling somewhere, I look to see if they have a brewery. … We’re trying to create that here.”
Brewer and Simpson said they’re shooting for a spring opening, depending on ATC approval.
Ouachita Brewing Co.
Cotton Port Brewing
Flying Tiger Brewery