Successful Craft

Craft beers are becoming an increasingly popular trend with people who are in their lower to mid twenties, bartender Emily Ashford said.

Most bars sell craft beers, however, not all are able to really succeed in doing so. So why are some bars successful where others fail? What makes a bar successful in selling craft beers?

Gregg Butler is the manager of Mahony’s, which is a local bar on the edge of LSU’s campus. He said the main reason for the bar’s success of selling craft beers is because of the bar’s location.

“We’re right next to a college,” Butler said. “We have more of a younger crowd that is open minded and willing to try new things.”

“There are a lot of new breweries in Louisiana that are brewing new beers like IPAs or Stouts,” Butler said. “So college kids, or people of around that age group, want to order these beers to say they tried something new.”

Mike O’Neal is the owner of Big Mike’s Sports Bar and Grill in Denham Springs. He also said that craft beer drinkers are more common out of a trend rather than particular taste preferences.

“Kids in this generation just want to try new things and be different,” O’Neal said. “If a brewery comes out with a chocolate peanut butter flavored beer, that beer will sell no matter how it tastes because people want to try something different.

Danny Blouin and Phil Estelle are both regulars at Big Mike’s Sports Bar and Grill. They both said they only drink domestic beer because that’s what they have always drank.

“I drink Miller Lite because it’s what I have always drank,” Blouin said. “In college we couldn’t afford most beer and Miller Lite was what we could get our hands on.”

“It just depends on what kind of customers a bar attracts,” Estelle said. “If a bar can attract a good amount of people from a younger crowd, then it will have more success in selling craft beers as opposed to a bar that attracts only an older crowd.”

“It tends to be the younger crowds that tend to order more craft beers,” Croft said. “They tend to order the most recently released beers, because they want to be up to date with what beers are popular.”

Butler said that it also thrives when people from out of town visit his bar because they are looking to try a beer that is brewed locally.

“People want to say they visited Baton Rouge and had a beer that was brewed in that location,” Butler said. “I do the same thing when I go out of state or locations I’m not familiar with.”

Butler also said his bar’s success in selling craft beers is largely because of the bartenders that work there. He said that having bartenders that are knowledgeable about the craft beers helps to cater to people’s beer pallets, which helps when people want to try beers that taste similar to what they like.

Allison Tichenor is a bartender at Mahony’s, and said her knowledge of how the beers taste gives her an advantage when recommending new beer to customers.

“If someone who likes hoppy beers asks for a beer recommendation, I would refer them to an IPA, or another form of pale ale,” Tichenor said. “That really gives us an advantage when trying to advertise new beers.”

Austin Croft is a bartender at Capital City Grill in down town Baton Rouge. He also agreed that a knowledgeable bartender directly correlates with a bar’s ability to successfully sell craft beers because price is a deciding factor for most.

“People aren’t going to be willing to pay five dollars for a beer they’ve never had before,” Croft said. “A bartender that knows how the beer tastes and has the ability to compare it to other beers the customers are accustom to will have success in selling them a craft beer.”

Croft also added that a good bartender should be able to do more than compare similar beer tastes. He said a good bartender should also be able to refer the right beer to complement the customer’s meal.

“Certain beers go better with different meals, because like wine, they can help to bring out the food’s flavor” Croft said. “A good bartender or waiter should not recommend the same beer to a person who orders a hamburger as the person who may have ordered grilled fish.”

“The ability to compare beer tastes to recommend a customer similar beers as well as the ability to choose the right beer for each meal is what separates a good bartender from the mediocre ones,” Croft said. “It also brings success to that bar or restaurant.”

“It also comes down to the type of people you’re selling beer to,” Brice Gaudet, bartender at LSU Champions Club said. “We don’t sell craft beers as well as domestics at the Club.”

Gaudet said that the customers he deals with are usually of a much older crowd and mainly order domestic beer if they aren’t ordering liquor.

“Most people who come in the Champions Club order domestics because that is what they grew up drinking and that is what they’re used to,” Gaudet said. “They generally aren’t interested in trying new beer that tastes nothing like what they are used to.”

“We also cater to a college student’s budget by offering drink specials for craft beers,” Butler said. “For example, Wednesday nights are Abita nights and we sell each Abita for $2 each.”

Butler also said presenting the customers with a challenge as well as a reward to that challenge helps to sell a lot of craft beers.

Mahony’s has a challenge called the “Around the World Challenge,” in which customers who have tried all 140 of the available beers have their name inscribed on a plaque, which is hung on the wall in the bar, Butler said. He said this is their most successful way of selling craft beers, especially ones that no one has ever heard of before.

Devin Dugas is a craft beer enthusiast. He enjoys trying new beers and collecting the different bottles. He said he and his roommates are very proud of their collection, which is over 250 bottles strong.

“Me and my roommates take advantage of drink specials at bars like Mahony’s and Chimes,” Dugas said. “I love to try new craft beers, but I’m a college student living on a budget, so I’m limited to what beers I can afford.”

“I also like the around the world challenge at Mahony’s,” Dugas said. “It gives me the opportunity to try beer that I otherwise would have never heard of and really helps to expand our bottle collection.”

“We have really good relationships with distributors and breweries,” Jessica Kessler, bartender at The Chimes said. “We just want people to come try the local beers.”

“We also have a thing called Chimes Beer University, which can be found at our website,” Kessler said. “The website teaches people a lot about the different types of beer so they can learn about the beer while drinking it.”

Kessler said their website makes the bar very successful in selling craft beers.

So what makes a bar successful at selling craft beers? According to various different bar sources, it takes some marketing and advertising. It takes being able to cater to the right crowd as well as providing some sort of incentive as to why a customer should choose craft over domestic.

Bars like Mahony’s, Big Mike’s Sports Bar and Grill and The Chimes are all successful in selling craft beers.

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Jessica Kessler at The Chimes, in front of their large selection of craft beers.


Devin Dugas proudly standing in front of his impressive craft bottle collection.



A recent survey consisting of 31 people showed that roughly 71 percent of people are open to ordering a craft beer over a domestic. The survey also showed that most people believe having knowledgeable bartenders, a large selection and good drink specials are all important for a bar to be successful. However, most people said that having knowledgeable bartenders is the most important variable.

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These graphs from the survey prove that people are open to trying craft beers over domestic, however most believe it requires a knowledgeable bartender for them to be convinced.



Livingston Parish School Board

The Livingston Parish School Board voted to approve the purchase of 1.183 acres of land and to appoint a professional of record for Denham Springs Elementary Thursday.

“There weren’t many things on the agenda,” School Board Member Jan Benton said. “It was the shortest meeting we’ve had in a while.” The meeting lasted about ten minutes.

The Board met to discuss only five items on the agenda, Benton said. The board had to vote to lift the agenda to add the item to the agenda of appointing a professional of record for Denham Springs Elementary.

“We appointed a professional of record for a four classroom addition at Denham Springs Elementary,” School Board Member Buddy Mincey Jr. said. “We voted to appoint Alvin Fairburn Associates to be the professional of record.”

Benton said the professional of record being appointed is to design a building plan to build new classrooms for fourth-graders at Denham Springs Elementary.

“We are replacing some old T-buildings for fourth graders,” Benton said. “Instead of replacing them with more T-buildings, we are building a more permanent structure.”

Benton said they also voted to approve the purchase of 1.183 acres of land on Wildcat Drive in Walker. The land is behind the old football field behind Walker Elementary, which is now going to be used for extra parking, Benton said.

Board Members Jan Benton, Karen Schmitt, Buddy Mincey Jr., Kellee Hennessy, John Watson, Malcolm Sibley, James Watson, Jeffery Cox, James Richardson and Sid Kinchen all voted unanimously to approve all of the items on the agenda, including the motion to appoint the professional of record.

The meeting ended after roughly ten minutes because none of the Board Members had conflicting views.School BoardCh

The School Board for Livingston Parish Public Schools met Thursday and voted to approve all five items on the agenda as well as one item that was added after the agenda was lifted.

Domestic Trumps Craft

A recent survey showed people between the ages of 21-30 who didn’t drink craft beer, chose not to do so because of lack of knowledge and high price. However, what about people that are less concerned about money? What about higher classed bars than that of the college bars?

Champion’s Club of LSU is a VIP section in Alex Box stadium that sells alcohol during LSU baseball games. Champion’s Club Operations Coordinator Sean Hanlon said the club sells a good amount of craft beer each month.

“I’ve found that some of the craft beers we sell are very popular,” Hanlon said. “All of our beers cost the same, whether domestic or craft beer, so people are more open to order craft beer than they might be somewhere else.”

“While people may be more open to trying our craft beer because there is no price difference, but sales stats still show that domestics are in higher demand,” Hanlon said.

Hanlon said craft beers vary depending on different things, such as game time or an in-state game.

“I’ve noticed people usually order more domestic beer as opposed to craft beer during day games,” Hanlon said. “People usually find it easier to drink light beer because it doesn’t fill them up as much.”

Brice Gaudet, Champion’s Club bartender said that because they carry mainly Louisiana craft beers, craft beer prices are higher during in-state games.

“Most people who come in the club are older because it is expensive to get in,” Gaudet said. “That’s probably why domestic beers sell in higher demand than our craft beers.”

Collin Smith, another employee of the Champion’s Club, said he has heard from many customers of a different reason as to why they prefer domestic beer over craft beer.

“I’ve frequently been told by customers that they stick to domestic beers because they are healthier than most craft beers,” Smith said. “Most domestic beers have a lot fewer calories than craft beers.”

The stat sheets above provided by Hanlon show that even though all beer cost the same, the most popular beers are domestics.

Craft Beer VS Domestics

The Craft Beer Industry is a rapidly growing industry all over the United States and is growing rapidly in Louisiana. I have recently fallen in love with craft beers and I noticed that many of my friends did not share my same enthusiasm. I decided to conduct a survey of how people feel regarding their preference between domestic and craft beer. I also conducted several interviews with friends, coworkers and even random people I met in local bars.

In my interviews, I found that many people had different opinions. Some said they only drink domestic beer, while others shared my love for craft brews. The reasons for why people didn’t drink craft beers varied, however the most common variable was price.

Breanna Smith, a student at Louisiana State University and bartender at Big D’s Daiquiris in Denham Springs said she prefers craft beer, but the prices are sometimes too much.

“We only serve domestics at Big D’s,” Smith said. “It’s just too expensive for us to stock our shelves with craft beer.”

Brian Benton, a student at McNeese University, said he rarely strayed from drinking domestic beer because they are cheap.

“I’ve drank craft beer before when someone else paid for it,” Benton said. “I like certain craft beers, but I just don’t like them enough to pay that much for beer when I can get more beer for the same price.”

Benton was not the only one with this opinion. I ran into Bryce Dugas, a student at Louisiana Tech University, and he had a similar response. Dugas said he likes to try a variety of beers to expand his beer pallet, but he said he doesn’t get to try as many as he would like to.

“I love to drink craft beer, and I love finding new beer I haven’t tried yet,” Dugas said. “I wish I had the means to try more beer, but it gets expensive and right now I’m just a college kid who has more important things to spend money on.”

Cody Brown, a student at Louisiana State University, said if it weren’t for the prices he would drink more craft beer.

“I drink craft beer from time to time, but I mainly stick with domestic beer to save money,” Brown said. “I can get a 30-pack of Natty Light for the same price that would get me a six-pack of something like Tin Roof or Abita.”

Another popular reason for why people chose domestics was lack of knowledge of the craft brew world. Caleb Kerstens, a student at Southeastern Louisiana University, said he recently became a craft beer drinker after his visit to Gnarly Barley Brewery in Hammond.

“I never really drank craft beer because I didn’t know much about it,” Kerstens said. “I’ve been drinking Bud Light for as long as I remember, and I didn’t try anything else because I didn’t see a reason to.”

“I first experienced craft beer when I visited Gnarly Barley Brewery and I fell in love with it,” Kerstens said. “Now what I know what I’ve been missing, I doubt I’ll ever go back to drinking domestic beer.”

Blake Dupre, a student at Baton Rouge Community College, had the same reason as Kerstens.

“I didn’t know anything about craft beer until my roommates started putting it in the fridge,” Dupre said. Before that, I always drank domestic beers because that is what I’ve always drank.”

Brice Gaudet, a bartender for LSU Champions Club in Alex Box Stadium, said that sales for craft beer have increased since he’s worked there.

“I think it has to do with a lack of beer knowledge,” Gaudet said. “People see the display bottles and always ask me what a certain beer is.”

Gaudet said that he has noticed more and more customers are choosing craft beer over domestics.

“Craft beers are becoming more and more popular,” Gaudet said. “We’ve started carrying a larger variety of craft beers to increase customer satisfaction.”

I also conducted a survey and found that most people had the same reasons for why they didn’t buy craft beer.


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According to this graph, most people do not prefer craft beer over domestic beer. However, most did not have a specific preference, and from their responses I believe the people without a preference do not know much about craft beer.

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This graph shows that very few people actually dislike craft beer, and that a good amount of people love it. It also gives more evidence that some of the people who love it find it to be too expensive. Once again most people do not have an opinion, and from their comments on the survey, they said it was due to a lack of knowledge.


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Unlike most of my interviews, the survey showed me that the main reason why people don’t drink craft beer is from not knowing about them. While a good number of people choose domestics for financial reasons, a lack of knowledge is the leading reason for why people my age opt for domestic beer.

The craft beer industry is becoming more popular each year and I believe one day it will expand enough to where people will be just as aware of craft beers as they are of domestics. However, the price variable will always play as a factor and will continue to be a reason why people my age opt to drink domestics.


From Hobby to Gnarly Reality

HAMMOND—Gnarly Barley, a microbrewery, originated as a hobby that turned into a career for Zac Caramonta and his wife Cari Caramonta.

Caramonta said he acquired the taste for craft beers after visiting states outside of the southeast region. He said the lack of craft beers in the south inspired him to recreate the craft-beer-taste with his own twist.

“This all started as a hobby,” Caramonta said. “I fell in love with craft beers and started brewing my own in my garage.”

Caramonta said his beer was first introduced to the public at the On Tap Beer Festival in New Orleans, and he continued presenting them at other festivals. He said he received enough positive feedback that he began to do research on expansion possibilities.

“At first, I was just doing research on a dream,” Caramonta said. “All the publicity from the festivals snowballed until my beer had gained a good reputation.”

Caramonta said it was his wife who encouraged him to turn his hobby into a career.

“Cari told me that she believed my beer was good enough to brew full time,” Caramonta said. “I thought about it and figured it was now or never if I wanted to turn a dream into a reality.”

“The two biggest challenges were funding the project and building a facility that would support growth,” Caramonta said. “We decided to go the route of funding Gnarly Barley through the bank instead of investors, because we felt complete ownership was necessary in order to fulfill our vision.”

Caramonta said it wasn’t easy to get a loan from the bank, because neither he nor his wife had previous experience or a real way to forecast success. He said eventually a bank funded their vision and they have remained partners ever since.

“The other problem they had was figuring out a way to build equipment large enough to be established as a manufacturing brewery that sells offsite to grow quickly and produce a lot of beer,” Caramonta said.

He and his wife chose to locate the brewery in Hammond because they both attended Southeastern Louisiana University, which is also where they met, Caramonta said.

“In my opinion, Hammond also has the best skate park in the state, so it was a no-brainer,” Caramonta said.

The inspiration for Gnarly Barley’s logo, name and label designs comes from the life style and lingo of skateboarding, Caramonta said. For example, the logo is designed to resemble the wheel of a skateboard, and the label for their beer, Catahoula Common, is a dog riding a skateboard.

Caramonta is an avid skateboarder, and is a member of the YOURS foundation, which is an organization that works to build skate parks in local communities.

“I was able to merge two of my passions into one,” Caramonta said. “The care-free attitude of skateboarding combined with the art of brewing.”

Caramonta said the competition between microbreweries has its pros and cons. Microbreweries are popular in the United States, however are not as popular in the south. Caramonta said he supports surrounding breweries in the state because he feels they all have the same goal.

“Obviously I want people to choose our beer over our competitors, but the more people who discover craft beer the better,” Caramonta said. “The people buying our competitor’s craft beers are more likely to try our beer than those drinking domestic beer.”

“I don’t even drink my own beer when I get home, because I’m around it all day,” Caramonta said. “I buy beer made by other microbreweries, because I want us all to succeed in our common goal.”

Gnarly Barley is tied between 17 other breweries in the state for largest manufacturing brewery, Caramonta said.

Caramonta said his goal is to make beer that makes people fall in love with craft beer. Caleb Kerstens, first time craft drinker, said Caramonta accomplished that goal after his first visit to Gnarly Barley.

“I never thought I would stray from domestic beer,” Kerstens said. “I’ve been drinking Bud Light for as long as I can remember.”

Kerstens said he was skeptical about trying craft beer because he knew so little about it.

“I had no idea what I was missing out on,” Kerstens said. “Lets just say that I’ve discovered a whole new world of beer that I am looking forward to exploring”

Caramonta said customers like Kerstens are the reason he started brewing in the first place.

“Making a beer that converts a domestic beer drinker into a craft beer drinker is what it’s all about,” Caramonta said.

Caramonta said that Gnarly Barley has been very successful and has a lot of potential for more expansion. He said the brewery is a dream-come-true and that he loves his job.

“My wife and I are our own bosses, and I love that,” Caramonta said. “We don’t have to answer to a boss, which makes us happy.”

Caramonta said he looks forward to what is in store for Gnarly Barley and having fun doing what he loves.

“We try to have fun with everything we do here,” Caramonta said. “We make sure to not over think anything and just maintain a care-free mindset.”

Denham Springs VS Sulphur

DENHAM SPRINGS—The 6th ranked Denham Springs Lady Yellow Jackets defeated the 25th ranked Sulphur Lady Golden Tors in the first round of the State Playoff Tournament on Thursday.

Denham Springs beat Sulphur with a final score of 48-40, however the game was a lot closer than the final score suggests. Even though Denham Springs was ranked much higher than Sulphur, the Lady Tors made it a close scoring game until the final 60 seconds.

“Sulphur played a hard-fought ball game,” Denham Springs Head Coach Shelly LaPrarie said. “They reminded us that anyone can beat anyone in this tournament, no matter what they are ranked.”

Denham Springs took an early lead over Sulphur, with Denham Springs’s Lexi McMorris and Christina Canale both hitting three-point shots early in the game. However, Sulphur’s Dani Donovan kept her team in the game with several layups.

It was not until Denham Springs’s Maia Robinson made a buzzer-beating layup to end the first half that the Lady Jackets had a decent lead.

“We were down by eight points at half-time, but we knew we were still in the ball game” Donovan said. “We knew we had to just play harder.”

Both teams played hard in the second half of the game. Sulphur was able to tie the ball game for a short moment in the third quarter and finally claimed the lead in the fourth.

For a moment, it seemed like Sulphur was going to pull off an upset against the much higher ranked Denham Springs. However, with Sulphur in foul trouble, Denham Springs regained the lead by taking advantage of being in the bonus.

Denham Springs re-claimed the lead with less than three minutes to go in the game and Sulphur was unable to recover. With a final score of 48-40, Sulphur’s season had ended and Denham Springs advanced to the next round.

“We have a lot to work on before our next game,” McMorris said. “We can’t expect to keep winning if we keep making so many mistakes.”

Denham Springs will play their next game away against Pineville Monday.

Game Preview


GIRLS BASKETBALL—The Denham Springs Yellow Jackets and Sulfur Golden Tors will face off at Denham Springs High School on February 18 at 6 p.m. The Tornados and Yellow Jackets will be competing in the first round of the State Playoff Tournament.

The Lady Jackets are ranked 6th in the state, which favors them to win against their 25th ranked opponent according to Denham Springs also has proven to have an advantage at home this season by being undefeated on their home turf.

Sulfur has struggled with away games this season. The Golden Tors have a record of 5-5 when playing away from home ( Denham Springs appears to have the advantage going into the game, however anything can happen between these two talented teams.

According to, both teams perform better in the second half of the game. By looking at statistics posted on, it appears the action might not kick off until the second half. You can follow the action live on twitter using #RoadToState or by following @JournaliZT_94.