It’s been a long, strange trip for the folks at Bayou Teche Brewing, but then again when has life ever been easy for the Louisiana Acadians? Luckily, adversity leads to great things.
We must first examine how Acadians came to settle in the Pelican State as a method of illustrating this lengthy struggle just to get by. A French king had commissioned explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (Hey, didn’t someone sell him a bridge? Oh, right…) to seek out new territory. The rudimentary map brought back reminded the king of a portion of Greece called “Arcadia,” meaning “refuge.” French colonists stayed in this region – now the Canadian Maritimes and parts of Quebec and Maine – for roughly 80 years before the British launched the Siege of Port Royal. 45 years later the Brits forced them out fearing they were aiding their relatives during the French and Indian War (hint, they were).
This displacement is known as Le Grande Dérangement. 125 some-odd years of burgeoning cultural identity was sent packing. During the expulsion, a portion of the population was sent back to France. In an agreement with Spain (and as a double-country raspberry towards England) arrangements were made to send these Acadians to the recently-acquired Louisiana to work as farmers. With them came their old-French dialect that shifted on its own accord in the time Acadia was originally settled, their cooking and their rustic methods of brewing beer.
As Louisiana – especially New Orleans – filled up with the cultures of multiple backgrounds and nations, each one added a little of their own spice to the cooking pot. Over time, with necessity being the mother of invention, the beer evolved to suit the new hodge-podge we now know as Cajun-Creole.
This was something a man named Karlos Knott noticed while stationed with the Army in Germany; that beer and food evolve with each other. He also discovered European beer. After sampling the beers of the emerging Pacific Northwest scene, he returned home to Arnaudville, Louisiana and started dabbling in home brewing. By January, 2010 Bayou Teche Brewing was born with small production out of a converted rail road car. Demand grew so they tapped Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia to contract brew their products until they could afford larger facilities of their own. Once this happened, Lazy Mag brewer Gar Hatcher decided to keep making Bayou Teche’s beers and moved to Arnaudville to join Karlos and his brothers Byron and Dorsey.
Bayou Teche’s game is really starting to elevate rustic French farmhouse brewing into something sophisticated. In honor of the history I’ve just discussed I think I’ll have their Acadie Bière de Garde. A little more dark copper in color than I expected, Acadie sports a soapy head that settles into a lace-leaving cap. Sweet scents of caramelized sugar mingle with a grapefruit-tangerine presence alongside saltine cracker and fruity Belgian yeast. Strisselspalt hops lend a lemony note up front with flavors of orange pekoe, toast and wet grain.
Bayou Teche Acadie… a French connection from here to the past worth journeying.