"What we’re dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law" – Buford T. Justice

I smuggled some beer in from Texas yesterday.

Because of the arcane way beer is distributed in Louisiana there are many beers that are never brought into our state for sale. One brewery’s beer that I have been itching to try is Dogfish Head out of Delaware. I have not been able to locate a six pack in Louisiana and a cursory check of their website confirmed my suspicions – their beer is not sold here.

But they are distributed in Texas.

So that is how I wound up at an upscale wine and liquor store in the Woodlands Texas, looking for Dogfish head 60 minute IPA. I ran out of the store with my newly purchased six pack camouflaged in a brown paper sack, and drove straight to my hotel.

Once in my room, I whipped out my trusty Swiss army knife and pried out the well-worn bottle opener. After getting the cap off the bottle, it seemed the room was filled with intensely hopped incense. I knew this beer was going to be good – and bitter.

Before I took the first sip I amused myself with the idea that most men’s wives worry that there is a woman in the hotel room with their husband away on business. My wife instead is concerned with how much money I am going to spend on beer.

A mistress might be cheaper.

Man, that beer was exceptionally good. During the course of the evening I savored the other 5 bottles. After finishing the last one I considered not brushing my teeth so I could enjoy the flavor just a little longer.

The Dogfish Head brewery makes some unique, extreme and outstanding beer. Their motto is “Off-centered ales for off-centered people.” The beer I was drinking was an IPA with an innovative bittering technique that the brewers there thought up. Traditionally beers are brewed with two major hop additions – One very early for bitterness and one near the end of the boil for flavor. Their technique adds very small hop additions continuously throughout the boil. This makes for an IPA that is hyper-infused with hop flavor and “slaps your mama” with its bitterness.

It is a very different beer from our LA-31. We only use late hop additions that gives our beer a great hop flavor yet leaves smooth and mellow hop bitterness. I think the Dogfish would go great pared up with American style pepperoni pizza, a spicy meatball sub, or cheese enchiladas. We like to think our LA-31 really compliments our regions more refined cuisine, like gumbo, jambalaya or sauce picante.

The next morning I loaded my car up with several cases of the Dogfish Head IPA, a couple of another beer of theirs, Raison D’Être, and a six pack of New Belgium Brewery’s Fat Tire. Keeping an eye out for Smokey and singing “East bound and down, loaded up and trucking” I felt like Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit. I smuggled my load of beer from Texas across the Louisiana line all the way to our Arnaudville brewery. There are still some cooling in the beer fridge now, tempting me still to forgo brushing my teeth before bed tonight.

So next time you are in Texas you might want to pick up some beer that is impossible to buy and enjoy in Louisiana. When safely home with your smuggled contraband, toast your inner Bandit, Snowman or Frog (Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, and Sally Field). And check out freelouisianabeer.blogspot.com for some things you can do to help us change Louisiana’s beer distribution laws.

Brewery update: Had a couple of small setbacks this week, one with the zoning folds. It seems our building was a little too far back from the state highway and would be on land zoned Agriculture. After taking out some brewery equipment supplies and carpentry tools we moved the operation a little closer to the road. We have not heard back from the government on our license, but they have cashed the check for our bond. That makes us think we should be legal soon. Even with the setbacks we are still shooting to have some beer for sale for November.

  • Todd R. Brown

    I'm not seeing a way to contact you here, so if you would call or e-mail me for a story on microbrewing in Louisiana, I'd appreciate it — Todd R. Brown, Baton Rouge Business Report, 225-928-1700 x126 or tbrown@businessreport.com — thanks!