Abita Brewing Company, situated approximately 30 miles north of New Orleans, is the oldest craft brewery in the Southeast and one of the oldest in the United States. At the time of its founding in 1986, we were still very much within the early days of the American craft beer renaissance. Clearly there was an untapped market for better beer in the region, as their product was a hit and in 1994 they moved the main brewery into a larger facility a short way up the road, leaving the original building to become their popular brewpub. Currently Abita is brewing at a pace of 90,000 barrels annually (a far cry from the 1,500 of their first year!).
Despite their growth, Abita still brews each beer in small batches, taking advantage of protected artesian wells so pure that the water is fit for brewing directly from the ground, and is added straight to the brew kettle without any chemical preparation. The local Choctaw Native Americans believed the water to have curative properties, and it was they who named the springs “Abita,” which translates as “healing waters.”
Abita Brewing Company is also notable for their charitable work. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which spared the brewery any major damage, Abita brewed Restoration Pale Ale to raise money for hurricane relief. One dollar from every six pack sold was donated to the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, amounting to over half a million dollars. Additionally, $115,000 has been donated to the town of Abita Springs to expand and revitalize the historic Tourist Park in the town’s center. To celebrate Abita’s 20 year anniversary in 2006, the brewery threw a massive party; thousands attended and $20,000 was raised to benefit the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Employee Relief Fund, which is dedicated to helping displaced food service workers return to their homes and their jobs.
For more information about the brewery, brewpub and/or scheduled tours, call (985) 893-3143.