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Around Louisiana

Regional Reports from across Louisiana

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Brewing in Broussard

Half a decade ago, Andrew Godley was in the company of the woman who would become his wife, drinking rather indifferent beer from a limited beer menu in what was one link in a long restaurant chain. Describing what he calls “the epiphany at Olive Garden,” Godley, now 32, followed his star and eventually opened Parish Brewing Co. According to a report by Timothy Boone in the New Orleans edition of the Advocate,  Godley, a  chemical engineering graduate from LSU, developed what became the flagship brew of the microbrewery, Canebrake, a velvety smooth wheat ale made with Steen’s cane syrup.

Canebrake’s popularity ignited like fires in a sugar field with Louisiana’s brewskie devotees, and now the company brews 2,000 to 4,000 gallons weekly to be sold on tap at bars and restaurants. The six members that comprise the total brewery staff make their magic beer potions in a metal building in Broussard, replete with microscopes to study microbes in Belgian ales and other concoctions to help create their own unique blends.

The emphasis is on quality not quantity, and Godley’s reputation of being true to this credo is already legend after only a few short years of brewing. Brenton Day, who runs a beer blog called “The Ale Runner,” extols Godley’s dedication to quality. Indeed, the brewery can hardly keep up with the huge demand for its sudsy creation, but Godley refuses to cut any corners and sell himself into mass production.

After his Olive Garden epiphany, Godley threw himself into learning the art of brewing beer, something with which he had no experience. He set up shop in a 1,200-square-foot  room and bought beer brewing supplies from the Internet, reshaping and refitting them to his own purpose. He had to think out of the box because it was the cheap way to go.

By 2009, he had hit upon and perfected the nectar of Canebrake. Still working as a chemical engineer and in spite of the hand-rigged brewing equipment, Godley managed to produce 16 kegs of beer and peddle his product to the bars, working 70 and 80 hours a week.

According to Vanessa Gomes, who is the marketing director at a Mandeville draught house called The Barley Oak, the sales of Canebrake are on par with such European biggies as Guinness and Stella Artois.

Godley’s sense of quality also extends to the caliber of  the people he employs. Will Gallaspy, who worked as a commercial brewer before joining Parish Brewing Co., usually mans the microscope analyzing the mix of microbes – the company is planning to make a sour Belgian beer – and has already expanded its repertoire of refreshment by creating Grand Reserve. Described as a smooth, bottle-aged barley wine that is more complex than Canebrake, it also has an alcohol content of 11 percent. To Godley’s surprise, bottles were snatched from store shelves.

Due to be released this April, the next offering will be Farmhouse IPA, a light summery beer made with Belgian yeast and more delicate hops, perfect for warmer weather. Godley can’t make enough beer to meet the high demand for his product although he has moved to a larger brewery and his revenue is growing.

“Our problem is not selling  beer; our problem is making beer,” Godley told the Advocate. “We just need to make more in a high-quality way.”

Mass expansion is not necessarily the goal or the key

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