Fun, exhausting, unreal, proud, fierce. Those are just a few words that come to mind when I think about our first three years of business.
To reflect on what was and what will be, I challenged myself and our team leaders to provide a few thoughts in which I call; These Three Things. Three simple points of reflection or outlooks on what’s next. Enjoy.
Andrew Nations \ Co-Founder
People continue to be our strongest asset. We have been quite fortunate to recruit and retain passionate employees who have standards as high as ours. Their commitment to quality beer, events, and an overall experience for our customers is fundamental and never ceases to amaze me. Every single Great Raft employee works hard to get a delicious beer into your hand because they WANT to. Not because they are rewarded handsomely, but because they genuinely care about the quality of our beer, take pride in it and want to share it with you. Cheers to that!
Having the conviction and willingness to drastically change Commotion in April of 2015 was one of the most important decisions of our short existence. We haven’t regretted that a single bit. Life is short. Good enough is never good enough.
The Belgian program is off to a great start. We’ve made beer funky, sour, oaky, fruity etc. We love having this part of our operation and are thrilled to be adding more capacity and more beers to this program. Stay tuned. 2017 will be epic.
Justin Baker \ Operations Manager
The Great Raft Brewing team has a passion for turning raw goods in to beer. This fact is demonstrated in their day to day work. The brewery is kept clean and the attention to the detail when filling a keg, can, or bottle is very closely monitored. Each keg is cleaned, purged with CO2, and filled one at a time and each step of the process takes a passionate and dedicated beer lover; we are lucky to have a team so committed to putting out the best beer in Louisiana.
Shreveport/Bossier City and the rest of the great state of Louisiana have received Great Raft so well and embraced locally crafted beer. I take pride in working for Great Raft Brewing and enjoying bragging about it too. Our beers are great with food and our home town is increasingly embracing the idea that a properly paired a beer with a meal can elevate the dining experience to a whole new level that this town has never experienced before.
There is a culture that has been built into Great Raft that strives for trying new and exciting things. We enjoy employee beer shares that not only educate each other on different breweries and styles, but it keeps our palates open to new and interesting ideas.
Harvey Kenney \ Chief Brewer
Flavor and paying an extra dollar for a beer is the raison d'etre of this industry. Most recently, this manifested in the form of a centrifuge. Our old filter rig was adding oxygen to our beer, which is beer's flavor enemy #1. A brewer colleague of mine tried to do an ROI for a centrifuge and according to him, it didn't ROI until he was 50 times bigger than us. We don't care about ROI on quality – it's in your hand. We can't put a limit on price when it comes to flavor. Notice the changes moving forward – we think it's a major improvement to our flavor profiles across the board.
It's true, I never thought Shreveport would be my home. I came here to do a job and fell in love with the place. Andrew and Lindsay are huge players in this, as their commitment to quality and straight shooting management style are unmatched in my worldwide career experience. I’m proud and happy to call Shreveport my home.
We have world class standards, regardless of size. We are small but keep the bar high as any of the biggest and the best. I knew this early on when Andrew and Lindsay agreed that a lab would be instrumental to our perception and execution of quality and reproducibility at the brewery. It cost money and took a lot of my time, but within a year and a half we had achieved what most breweries struggle to achieve at all, or even within 5 years: a functioning microbiological lab. We want your next beer to taste like the last one and be able to prove it with metrics.
Bob Thames \ Tasting Room Manager
The desire to bring new and exciting events to the tasting room is driven by our consumers. The best compliment we can be given is when someone comes to an event and leaves with a smile on their face.
The last thing we ever want is for someone to feel intimidated. We are making and selling beer here, not solving for world peace. It can be complicated, but it is always fun (to drink). When you come to the tasting room or see us at an event in the market, ask us questions or just share your feedback with us. We enjoy talking about and answering questions about beer almost as much as we love to drink it.
I don’t know why it took me so long to realize how much people love beer and food pairings. Look forward to bigger, bolder, and tastier food concentrated events in 2017.
Lindsay Nations \ Co-Founder
If your beer doesn't taste good, don't drink it. Demand better. Demand options. Don't just settle for whatever that bar has, or whatever six pack your friends brought over. You don't have to be a snob, but you don't have to be complacent either.
Look for us to push the envelope a little in 2017 and beyond. We've never claimed to brew to style guidelines, but just like we changed Commotion to be a better beer a year-and-a-half ago, we're constantly pushing ourselves and trying to make each of our beers the absolute best it can be. We're not afraid to make more changes for the sake of making something more palatable or exciting for our consumers. Does that mean we're changing everything on a whim? No. Does that mean your beer will taste different every time you buy it? Of course not. But it does mean that our team will harness the power of our collective palates and strive every day to present you with the very best beer we know how to make. And that may mean tweaking some things along the way. You may like it more. You may like it less. But know that we won't settle for "just ok". The market is too crowded for that.
Great Raft beer is now available outside of state lines for the first time. All of you who have supported us within Louisiana since day one need not worry. Your access to Great Raft beer is first and foremost. But if you don't have our beer somewhere you frequent, ask for us by name. Shoot us an email too. We'll try our best to make it happen.