By: Gramham Averill, Paste Magazine
During the last month, we’ve already talked about the best new beers of 2015, and rounded up the winning beers from all of our massive blind taste tests. In the process, we’ve detailed some amazing beers, and all that’s left as we rapidly approach 2016, is to talk about the breweries themselves—those mad scientist/artists that actually create all these amazing beers. So we asked our beer writers to pick their favorite breweries—the shops that knocked it out of the park in 2015. Here’s the completely subjective, but totally incredible list that they came up with, in no particular order.
Great Raft Brewing
It’s roughly two years old, but Great Raft Brewing already feels like the undisputed champ of the Louisiana craft scene. Evidence certainly continues to mount with things like Chef John Besh wanting these folks as collaborators. That resulting line of beers, Provisions and Traditions, pairs Great Raft with a specific Besh restaurant and challenges the brewery to use local ingredients, create a perfect pairing for varying cuisines, and keep things appropriately seasonal. (It’s all done in the name of culinary charity to boot.)
The results? This year’s Edition II was a summer Gose that used Avery Island salt and complimented Mexican dishes, and Edition III was an Oktoberfest with the state’s famous cane syrup to compliment your fall brats. If these one-offs are any indication, people beyond Shreveport should be counting down the days until the brewery’s other experimental offerings—say, it’s Christmas-seasonal, an 8.0% ABV Belgian Dark Strong Ale called Awkward Uncle—are delivered far and wide. Luckily in the meantime, fans around Louisiana have Great Raft’s unparalleled standard lineup to tide them over: Southern Drawl (Pale lager), Reasonably Corrupt (Black lager), and Commotion APA (American pale ale). Naturally, each is well above average for its style.—Nathan Mattise