Passion, flavor and community craft a drink


Zachary Araki/The Lion’s Roar

Low Road Brewing celebrated its two-year anniversary on March 30 with beer, crawfish and music. From community support and brewers’ passion, craft beer has been trending upwards in the market recently.

Whereas overall U.S. beer sales were down 1.2 percent in 2017, according to the Brewers Association, the craft beer market grew at about a five percent rate.

According to Todd Delaune, general manager of Red, White and Brew, craft beer takes standard beer to a new level.

“Craft beer is focused on flavor and quality, not on consistency,” shared Delaune. “Adjunct beers are primarily focused on a beer tasting exactly the same way each time it is produced. Adjuncts are unmalted grains or grain products used in brewing beer, which supplement the main mash ingredient. This is often done with the intention of cutting costs.”

Zac Caramonta, co-owner of Gnarly Barley Brewing Co., explained that the appeal of craft beer derived from a focus on local products.

“People are going towards craft because the people behind the products are more passionate about what they’re doing,” shared Caramonta. “It’s not the big box stores. It’s not the big, large, massive producers. They know when they’re spending their money, it’s staying in the local community. On a very general level, the appeal of craft beer is the same reason why the local grocers are doing so good and why the local restaurants do so good.”

For Joe Ribando, owner of Low Road Brewing, the attraction of craft beer lies in the taste.

“It’s just good quality beer,” expressed Ribando. “It’s funny. I remember the first time I drank it, I was like, ‘Wow, it’s got flavor.’”

Caramonta noted a change in what people look for in their beer.

“The days of drinking the same beer that everyone else does and buying the same thing and grabbing a suitcase of beer when they go shopping is over,” stated Caramonta. “They want variety. They want a good experience. They’re not just drinking the beer because it does something to your mind and eases some pain sometimes. They’re going after a liquid that’s enjoyable over just a quantity in order to get inebriated.”

Over time, Caramonta has seen the craft beer industry grow in Louisiana. He described its presence in Hammond as an anomaly due to the city’s size but attributed the popularity to the quality of people in Hammond.

“The university brings a lot to it too, drawing people that are looking for more,” explained Caramonta. “It’s been really cool. Since we opened, we have really been more than delighted with the local support. Opening the brewery, it wasn’t a strategic act to open it here in Hammond.”

Ribando shared how his interest in craft beer started about five years ago.

“I got bored and just started traveling to different breweries and really did enjoy the beer,” said Ribando. “So that’s how I got involved, just drinking really great craft beer and really liked the flavor, liked all the different options and decided I wanted to get into it.”

Since opening the brewery two years ago, Ribando experienced a welcoming reception from the community.

“It has done better than expected,” stated Ribando. “People have come in here, and they talk to me, kind of sense I’m really passionate about it. I love making beer. I love being involved with it. I think it’s a great industry.”

As a business, craft beer can be affected by the community as much as by the brewer’s passion.

“It’s an honor to have people care about what we do,” shared Caramonta. “It’s very humbling that I opened this brewery because I wanted to make a living making beer, but we feel like we built a community around us of people that care. Much of those people have become close friends of my wife and I, and it’s really humbling to see the community rally around us.”