Despite the fact that New Orleans accounts for 60% of beer sales of Louisiana’s Abita Brewing, the company reported a 30% increase in sales last year.
After selling 42,000 barrels in 2004 and 52,000 in 2006 the St. Tammany Parish brewer expects to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year by shipping 60,000 barrels. The company also is adding two new (beer-rich) markets – Oregon and Washington.
Abita sells six flagship brews, five seasonal brews and numerous other specialty beers. The sixth flagship brew, Fleur-de-lis Restoration Ale, was added shortly after Katrina. A dollar from every six-pack of Restoration Ale goes to the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation.
The brewery is in the midst of a $3.5 million expansion that will increase capacity by 50%. When many of the bars and restaurants around New Orleans were forced to close in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that expansion might have looked ill timed.
“For us, it was the worst-case business scenario,” Abita president David Blossman said.
Sales have been buoyed by returning locals interested in buying Louisiana products by nationwide growth in the market for regional craft beers. Local sales increased 30% in 2005 despite the hurricane (which hit two-thirds into the sales year).