The story of a family-owned bayou brewery
[caption id="attachment_875" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Brewery co-owners Byron Knott, Dorsey Knott and Karlos Knott pose for a portrait at Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, LA on November 29, 2019.[/caption]
Karlos Knott’s family has lived off of Highway 31 in Arnaudville for three generations, since his French-Acadian ancestors settled there in the late eighteenth century. On this property, in an old rail car, is where Bayou Teche Brewery was born.
Karlos, now president of the company, founded the brewery with his brothers, Byron and Dorsey, in 2009, and named it after the bayou bordering their family’s land. They were the third brewing company to form in a state now home to 37. A common sight among this rural land, a statue of Mary overlooks the fermenters in the warehouse, which are each named after old towns along Bayou Teche. Several bottles rest on either side of Mary, forming a makeshift altar; these are the brews the crew is most proud of, Knott said. Like the rail car that remains adjacent to the brewery’s larger red warehouse and spacious beer garden, it’s a reminder of how far they’ve come.
For 10 years, Bayou Teche Brewing has maintained its roots of experimentation and crafting beers complementary to Cajun and Creole cuisine. “It’s in our DNA,” Knott says. “It wasn’t a marketing thing, it was just who we were. We wanted to include our Cajun and Creole heritage in the DNA of the brewery.” Take a glance at the names of a few of the company’s beers—such as “Joli Blon,” “LA 31 Acadie,” and “Tart Side of the Teche Sour”—and you’ll know exactly where they come from. Every month, they create a new concoction they dub “crazy beer,” often inspired by Cajun food for flavor, with ingredients like smoked apples and sugarcane for fruit beers, or meat and spices for darker lagers and stouts. Last year, they developed a boudin brew that flew off shelves in minutes, as well as a Cajun Breakfast Stout made with gumbo and Tony Chachere’s. “We don’t want to be the biggest in Louisiana, but we do want to be the Tabasco Sauce of beer. Tabasco’s not the biggest, it’s probably not the best, but when you think hot sauce in Louisiana, it’s the brand you think of,” says Knott with a laugh. Tabasco is his favorite, by the way.
The brewery’s tap room is open daily, and they hold weekly events in their outdoor beer garden. The tap room is a cool respite from the thick summer heat, with twenty-four beers ready to pour and a jukebox playing the likes of Jimmy Buffet, Otis Redding, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Late spring and summer means the return of Thursday movie nights in the beer garden, featuring screenings of classic science-fiction and horror films, accompanied by handmade Cajun Saucer Pizza straight from the wood-fired pizza kitchen. Friday Night Live sees a local Cajun or Zydeco band on stage every week.
On weekends, Bayou Teche Brewing is more of a fais do do, a place for people to gather and engage with one another over thirst-quenching beers. Come Saturday, the brewery’s gravel parking lot is often overflows to line the neighboring Bushville Highway. As many as 200 people will come out on their busiest day of the week to try a new brew on tap, take a brewery tour (offered in French and English ), enjoy live performances, or participate in music trivia before a DJ closes out the night. Lazy Sunday afternoons are always reserved for Cajun Jam sessions and competitive games of bourrée. “If we’re having fun, we know our customers are,” Knott says. They’ve even hosted weddings on the porch of their beer garden’s bungalow cottage.
We’ll say “cheers!” to that. Visit bayoutechebrewing.com for more information on events and brewery tours, or call 337-754-5122.