Chafunkta Brewing Company
Husband-and-wife team Josh and Jamie Erickson have one serious thing in common: a passion for good beer. The Chafunkta Brewing Company grew out of the love both have for delicious suds and a belief that creating and delivering quality beer in Louisiana is critical for the rich culture that surrounds them. Several years went into planning the commercial brewery, and Josh made many batches of home brew to tweak the recipes. Finally, in April 2013, Chafunkta Brewing Co. became the 7th craft brewery to open in Louisiana and the first pints of Chafunkta were sold. Josh and Jamie were all smiles.
Their brewery is located in Mandeville, a vibrant city on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain that used to be a Native American settlement called Tchefuncte, or the easier-to-say and spell, Chafunkta. The brewery is run by the couple, and for their first year, each beer sold was part of a very small batch, approximately 82 6 packs at a time. Since then they have grown to now brew 60 BBL batches, or approximately 3,300 6 packs at a time. Regardless of size, love and attention are facets of every part of the process, providing consistency and quality to the drinker.
The camaraderie of craft brewers in Louisiana is evident when you visit the Chafunkta brewery. Josh still brews specialty quarterly releases, part of their Dew Drop series, on the same 1.5 BBL (55-gallon) system that Andrew Godley built to start Parish Brewing Company in Broussard. Photos of the stainless steel drums wrapped in wood line the wall of the tasting room at Parish, but the real things are still in use at Chafunkta. The Ericksons’ setup is much smaller than most craft breweries, and could be called a nanobrewery. To get a sense of the size differential, head just up the road to Abita Brewing Company, the 14th-largest craft brewer in the country.
Chafunkta Brewing Company currently has four annual flagship beers, Kingfish Ale, Bayou Blaze, Old 504, and Voo Ka Ray IPA.
Named after Louisiana legend Huey P. Long, Kingfish Ale is a light colored American Cream Ale with minimal hop flavor and a hint of lingering sweetness. It’s crisp and refreshing like a lager, with the flavor and complexity of an ale. Kingfish pairs nicely with sweet, hot, or spicy foods including many Asian & Cajun dishes, chili, mango, & jalapeño salsa.
Bayou Blaze is an easy drinking true-to-style traditional Irish Red, that provides your palate not only with caramel malt & slight roast flavors, but also has little to no bitterness & and a clean dry finish. Named not only for its red color/hue, Bayou Blaze was also named in homage to Blaze Starr, an American Burlesque dancer in New Orleans, who happened to have a well known affair with Earl Long, Huey P. Long's (The Kingfish!) brother and then Louisiana Governor! Some favorite Bayou Blaze pairings include roasted meats, lamb, game birds, sausages, ham, pork, chicken, venison, fruity mild cheeses, and Crème Brûlée.
Old 504 is a Coffee & Vanilla Infused Robust Porter that uses real Coffee & Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla beans, both imported by 2 local companies in the “new” 504, Orleans Coffee Exchange & Ronald Reginald’s Vanillas. Named after the original “old” Louisiana statewide area code, unlike many other Porters, Old 504 is a dark, yet light bodied Porter full of flavor that is enjoyable year round.
Old 504 complements many rich dishes but perhaps best accentuates local favorite desserts like bread pudding and Bananas Foster.
Voo Ka Ray IPA is an Imperial India Pale Ale that uses a late-hopping brewing technique to draw out the flavors and aroma of the hops without excessive amounts of bitterness. It pairs well with almost any spicy food that can be found in Louisiana.
All four of Chafunkta's beers can be found throughout Louisiana and Mississippi by using Chafunkta's online Beer Finder, find.chafunkta.com, which they update on a monthly basis.
Free Tours are available every Friday from 6 - 7 p.m, and for all of their events, check out their calendar at events.chafunkta.com.
While it is small, visitors will get an intimate look at the brewing process and will leave with a true understanding of how beer is made. Josh will personally show visitors around the setup and answer questions. Based on the success of his first four brews, Chafunkta is sure to outgrow its current brewery soon, so see it while you can.