Ouachita Brewing Co.

Heath Lord, founder of West Monroe-based Ouachita Brewing Co., is outspoken about what makes his brewery so special. A bit surprisingly, it’s not the beer itself.

“We’re all about getting together the best thing about Louisiana, which is its people,” Lord says. “When we can get people together, we’ll change the world one beer at a time.”

Idealistic? Maybe a little. But that’s part of Lord’s (and by extension, Ouachita Brewing’s) Louisiana pride. And there’s plenty more where that came from, too. Just look at the label of its flagship beer, LouisiAmber, which features a big map of the Bayou State. The company’s malty, slightly bitter DeltaPils was named for the Mississippi Delta that formed the landscape of northeast Louisiana that Ouachita Brewing calls home. Even the brewery itself was named for Lord’s native Ouachita Parish.

There is also a very practical reason for Lord’s love of brewing in his home state. Namely, crawfish. Come crawfish boiling season (April through June, roughly), you’ll find “boils” happening throughout the state. And nothing cuts the spice of boiled crawfish quite like a good Louisiana beer.

Lord may be a hometown hero, but he’s been around the world as well — mostly in the service of learning his craft. “I learned to brew in Texas around 2006 and ended up traveling to meet brewmasters in Germany, the UK, southeast France…. I even met up with some monks in Belgium and toured their breweries,” he says.

Bringing that knowledge back home, Lord began participating in homebrew competitions in Louisiana. In 2012, he was offered some financial backing, and in early 2016, Ouachita Brewing became the first licensed brewery in northeast Louisiana.

Ouachita Brewing offers free tours every Saturday afternoon, where visitors are given a behind-the-scenes look at how its beers are made. After your tour, relax in the taproom and order a pint of northeast Louisiana pride. Start with LouisiAmber, an American amber ale that Lord refers to as a “gateway beer, to get people more into craft beers.” There’s also the aforementioned DeltaPils, plus the coffee-infused porter named Conflicted, the Spice Winter Ale, and a lightly bitter pale ale called 318 APA.