Beer drinkers in The Natural State will soon get another taste of what the southern brewing scene has to offer.
Great Raft Brewing will soon expand its distribution footprint outside the state of Louisiana for the first time in a move that will send the brewery’s offerings to Arkansas and east Texas.
The Shreveport-based brewery was recently named to Paste Magazine’s list of the 50 Most Underrated Craft Breweries alongside Arkansas’ own Ozark Beer Co.
Great Raft’s year-round offerings include Southern Drawl, a hop forward pale lager; Reasonably Corrupt, a sweet, full-bodied black lager; and Commotion, a pale ale brewed with citrusy and fruity American hops like Citra and Mosaic.
It’s an intriguing core lineup that speaks to the four-year-old brewery’s obvious passion for producing modernized versions of traditional beer styles. A quick look at the company’s brewing history shows a mixed fermentation saison brewed with the increasingly popular Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand; a Kolsch made with Louisiana Cajun Country rice; and a German-style tart gose brewed with apricots.
The increased distribution comes on the heels of an expansion that includes an extra 140 barrels of capacity and a new, state-of-the-art GEA centrifuge.
Great Raft core lineup / Courtesy
“As our beer travels farther from home, it’s critical that we take the steps necessary to protect and deliver the beer in the best means possible,” said Andrew Nations, the company’s founder and president. “The addition of a centrifuge brings our overall quality program up-to-speed with the biggest and best in the industry.”
The expansion will also increase capacity on Great Raft’s Belgian program, which launched earlier this year and landed the brewery a medal for one of its Belgian-style beers. Farmhouse Slang – a mixed fermentation saison – took home the bronze at the 2016 U.S Beer Open Championships.
“The addition meets an immediate need to produce a greater volume and variety of Belgian-inspired beers,” said Nations. “The response has been outstanding as more and more people demand beers of the sour and funky variety.”
Nations said he’s excited to get Great Raft beers across state lines for the first time.
“Growing to neighboring states feels very organic,” he said. “We’ve always said we would take care of Louisiana first, and that isn’t changing. But it’s time to start serving new markets who routinely express interest in our beer.”
Nations said despite the temptation to share his offerings with as many people as possible, Great Raft will continue to take a relatively slow, methodical approach to growth.
The brewery will enter the Arkansas market under distribution by Arkansas Craft Distributors and O’Connor Distributing, while the Texas market will be handled by R&K Distributing.
Great Raft Brewing beers should be available in Arkansas beginning the week of Sept. 19. A variety of launch events are expected to be announced soon.