Founder and brewmaster Karlos Knott explains the relationship between his beer and Louisiana’s eclectic cuisine.
Research and development is a vague category in a brewery budget, a catchall for everything from specialty grains and adjuncts to travels abroad. For Bayou Teche in Arnaudville, La., however, it’s all about the food.
“That’s our whole research and development budget, buying and tasting food,” jokes Knott. “Every Sunday, after we work in the morning, we boil crawfish and drink beer. For us, the best part of being a brewer is the R&D.”
Whether Karlos and his brothers dine on jambalaya, gumbo, smoked sausage or brunch, they always keep beer in mind. After returning from service in the U.S. Army, Knott—who used to read Charlie Papazian’s “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing” in his foxhole—was determined to brew beer designed to pair with Cajun cuisine. The result is a lineup of four brews, each crafted to complement specific traditional dishes.
“Chicken and sausage gumbo with Bière Pâle is my go-to for Sunday dinner,” remarks Knott. “There’s also Boudin, a sausage made with rice, pork liver and fat, spices and onions that you can get at any gas station. We take the link, wrap it in bacon, smoke it with cherry wood, and it goes great with our Boucanée.”
“In this part of Louisiana—with the heaviest of Cajun culture—the food’s all cherry-wood-smoked; boucanée is Cajun for smoked food. This wheat beer’s lightly smoked with cherry wood, so it’s a little sweet and it’s pretty refreshing. When we do brewery tours, we always try to serve it with smoked sausages.”
LA-31 Bière Pâle
“It was designed to go with roux-based, smothered dishes that are really heavy and rich, like jambalaya, so the beer has a lot of hops and malts—and it’s all Belgian malt, so you can actually taste the beer while eating spicy food. American ale yeast makes the beer crisp for our hot days, but it’s also clean, so you can still taste the profile.”
LA-31 Bière Noirè
“I was stationed in Germany for six years; later, I went back with my brothers and showed them what I experienced. We had a schwarzbier made with ale yeast, and it was one of the best beers I’ve had in my life, so we wanted to make one. It’s like our house session beer, and it goes well with blackened dishes.”
“This is our passionfruit wheat beer. It’s like drinking a dessert: There’s a heavy wheat taste—like the crust—along with a lot of fruit. We planned for it to pair with brunch because we wanted a reason to start drinking early, but it also goes with salads and oysters.”