Calling all beer-loving entomologists: Royal Brewery is not only one of Louisiana’s newest breweries, but perhaps the only one in the nation that was inspired by insects.
How, exactly? According to founder Raymond Pumilia, the idea to make beer with bug-themed names came about a few years ago while he was brewing on his back porch. Batting away mosquitos mid-brew, he explains, “I thought: we have this incredible variety of insects, so why not use them?”
It’s quite a unique origin story. Fast forward to 2017, and Pumilia’s brewery, located on Lake Pontchartrain in the neighborhood of New Orleans East, has insect portraits displayed throughout the tap room. The beers on tap include the flagship Culicidae Ale — a medium-bodied American pale ale christened with the scientific name for mosquitos — and other craft brews named for termites and giant grasshoppers that are called “devil’s horses” in Cajun Country.
Pumilia, who has been brewing since the 1990s, teamed up his wife Mandy and former Abita® head brewer Michael Ogden to found Royal Brewery. Pumilia comes up with recipes, he and Ogden make small batches, and if they meet the team’s quality standards, they’ll scale up and do a larger run. It’s a pretty informal process, and that’s part of Royal Brewery’s charm.
The taproom is open from Thursday through Sunday, and the crew offers tours by request for visitors. Royal Brewery’s beers aren’t available in bottles or cans, so you’ll have to enjoy them at the taproom or fill up a growler to take home.
Before heading over, check out Royal Brewery’s social media channels (linked on its website) for updates on special events — Pumilia and his team regularly have food trucks on-site and hosts events to support area nonprofits.
That’s part of Pumilia’s commitment to the community, he says, and it speaks to what Royal Brewery’s all about. “We’re totally grassroots New Orleans people who have always enjoyed cooking and entertaining…. Actually, we still do, but now we don’t have to go out and buy the beer!”