Aside from being the next Tony Hawk, what cooler job is there for an avid skateboarder than to open a craft brewery down the street from a killer skate park? Zac Caramonta and his wife, Cari, took their passion to product in the form of the Gnarly Barley Brewing Company. Zac found himself drawn to the sense of community that came with skateboarding as well as the do-it-yourself aspect of building ramps, which ultimately fueled his initiative to build beers. Once the production became too much for their home-brew garage to handle, they decided to do the next logical step: turn it into a commercial brewery. Currently operating on three flagship beers, Gnarly Barley has a knack for creativity and bending the rules of brewing when it comes to flavor profiles.
The Catahoula Common, Radical Rye P.A. and Korova Milk Porter can be found on taps across southeast Louisiana. The name of the Catahoula Common pays homage to the California Common beer style and lives up to the flavor profiles of the steam beer. The common-type beer is cleverly named after the Louisiana state dog and is a refreshing, drinkable beer that’s great for the hot and humid Louisiana summers but also has enough character to drink year round. Clocking in at 5.7% ABV and 25 IBUs, it is a light colored refreshing lager with the "bite" of an ale. Its medium body and mild fruitiness from the atypical fermentation temperature creates an enjoyable brew.
An India Pale Ale, the Radical Rye P.A. lives up to its name by slapping you in the face with its spicy, hoppy goodness. It finishes a little sweet with a nice malty backbone to balance the hops and keep you coming back for more—radical indeed. It comes in at 7.5% ABV and 61 IBUs, so don’t skate too much after having a few. More beers will be coming from Gnarly Barley in the near future. They’ve played around with a Belgian Dubbel, an American IPA, and a couple different versions of a Milk Porter.
The marriage of skateboarding and craft brewing wasn’t too much of a stretch for Zac and neither was bringing his actual marriage into the equation. While Zac claims to be pretty laid back, his wife Cari keeps the brewery in check and on schedule. The two work well as a team and enjoy collaborating on brews together. Their brewery in Hammond, Louisiana is a great stop while traveling through the state on a quest for superb suds. A quick tour of the facility and a few beers will show you the passion that Gnarly Barley has for the beers they brew and the community to which they belong.