Something's brewing in Shreveport.
The city is about to see two new craft breweries open up- the first since the days before Prohibition.
When Great Raft Brewery and Red River Brewing Company open, they will be the latest entrants into a growing industry.
Americans drink a lot of beer. The Brewers Association says in 2012 the US market was worth about $99 billion.
The state ranks 11th in the country for beer consumption per capita, but when it comes to production it is 47th for number of breweries.
Red River Brewing Company
"I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel so that's exhilarating," Robert McGuire says of his new business venture, Red River Brewing Co.
McGuire co-founded the company with his friends Beau Raines, Jared Beville, and two silent partners. They will open their 1010 Marshall Street location in June.
"I actually brewed about 10 years ago with wine and mead," McGuire says of his beginnings as a home brewer. "Lousy wine and mead maker. I couldn't make a good wine to save my life, but started doing a little bit of beer and really fell in love wit the science and the craft of brewing a good beer."
Craft beer production on the rise
Nationally, the craft beer movement has exploded. There are 2,347 breweries, more than 1,200 in planning, and 409 opened last year alone.
Fort Worth Texas-based Rahr & Sons Brewing Company has seen the industry transform since filling their first pint.
"When we opened the brewery in 2004, it was almost impossible to sell a craft beer in North Texas," owner Fritz Rahr says of their beginnings.
Now Rahr's brewery tour is packed every Saturday, averaging 700 to 900 people through their factory doors.
"It's really one of the things that we like doing and to be perfectly honest, it's one of the least expensive forms of advertising," Rahr says. "If we can get people into the brewery, if we can get one of our beers in somebody's hand, they're going to drink it, they're going to like it. Hopefully, we've got a new customer."
Rahr says there was only one other craft brewery in the area when they opened. Now there are around 16 or 18 with 10 more on in the works. He sees the other brewers as allies, not adversaries.
"The more people we get drinking craft beer, the better off I think the craft beer segment of the industry is going to be," Rahr says.
Great Raft Brewing
The spirit of cooperation is something Shreveport's other upcoming brew house knows about.
Husband and wife business partners Andrew and Lindsay Nations signed papers April 30th for the new home of Great Raft Brewing on Dalzell Street.
"As often as possible, we try and at least close out the day with a beer, and talk about how things are going with the business," Lindsay Nations says.
The Nations say other craft brewers have opened their doors to them, sharing what works and what doesn't when opening a new brewhouse.
The larger of the two enterprises, Great Raft will offer tours like Red River, but with a in-house tasting bar as well.
"Beer is a really interesting process." Lindsay Nations says. "We hope this will be a destination for people within the community and also for people to travel to town to learn about how beer is made, to taste our products, to try different things, and to just think outside the box a little bit."
Local tourism officials say if two shops are successful, they could boost other businesses as well. Christ Jay with Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist is already planning ways to capitalize on the popularity of craft beer, once Shreveport has its own offerings to the industry.
"The craft beer audience is also the travel audience," Jay says. "They've got disposable income, they're educated, they want to eat and drink local when they visit a place, so this is going to be very good for us in general."
Craft beer still only accounts for 6.5 percent of the total US beer industry.
Cost is, no doubt, a barrier for some.
They're on average more expensive- sometimes 6 or 7 dollars a bottle.
Shreveport's tried to get people interested with the yearly festival, BREW.
"If they can taste a beer, and they like it, that then allows them to justify spending ten or twelve dollars on a six pack" organizer Melanie Bacon says. "I've tasted it, I know I like it, and so I don't mind spending the money."
For the guys at Red River they dream big but are starting small. They hope people will order their Blonde Bomber Ale or Red River Red. But even if demand is small, they have a plan.
"We're committed to brewing stuff we like to drink," McGuire says. "In case nobody else buys it, at least we'll drink it."
The Nations are still working out Great Rafts's official offerings, but they say as the grand opening draws closer, the excitement grows larger.
"It took awhile to kind of sell folks, but now that we're this far down the line, the response has been unbelievable" Andrew Nations says. "We get emails everyday, people asking when they can buy our beer. It took some time to catch on, but we've got a lot of momentum and we're excited."