When we decided to visit Mansura, Louisiana for the most recent Cochon de Lait festival (where we advised them to just shut the damn thing down ) we spent a few hours online to find out where to go and what to do in that neck of Acadiana.
As is always the case in this beautiful state there is plenty on offer in Avoyelles Parish.
Case in point: Broken Wheel Brewery inside the Fresh Catch Bistreaux (est.2008) in Marksville.
Broken Wheel is a startup nano-brewery in beer-starved Louisiana where we rank 49th for breweries per capita.
As is always the case, thank God for Mississippi as they rank 51st.
Walking into Fresh Catch Bistreaux we immediately notice the ancient brass diving helmets that have been repurposed into draft beer line receptacles. They are unlike anything you will ever see.
We immediately order a flight of the four beers on tap and sit back to take in the scene. Fresh Catch is pure Acadiana. The lighting is amber, Joe El Sonnier is playing on the hi fi and the walls are bedecked with photos of men and the animals they have hunted down and killed.
Our kind of place.
And about those beers. We drank four: Spring Bayou Blonde, a sessionable blonde ale; La Veille, a wit; Pachafa Pale, a pale ale, and Grand Chien, a milk stout. All were fine but that Pachafa begged further exploration. Come to find out it’s named after a mythical, regional monster- Johnny Pachafire. If you grew up being a bad kid in rural Louisiana your parents would try and scare some sense into your little ridiculous ass with tales of Pachafire. It was the best beer of the lot.
“Y’all might want to enter that one in Great American Beer Fest”
Brewer Chris Pahl who gave up life in Colorado to brew beer in small town Louisiana: “That’s the dream”
It takes a team to open a brewery. Jonathan Knoll, owner of Fresh Catch, recruited Pahl, an old college buddy to make the big move from Denver to Marksville, then well respected homebrewer Gary Guillory was brought in to show the novices how to correctly brew the beer and run the tiny one barrel system that fuels the tap system.
Let’s not forget that this is exactly how Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewery got his start. He brewed one barrel of beer per day during his first year of operation. Bell is now one of the kingpins of the craft beer industry and his brewery is one of the most respected in the world.
Pahl takes a moment to beckon us outside. “I want y’all to check out my hop garden”
Indeed, a wall adjacent to the patio is adorned with gorgeous Cascade hops, brilliant green and thriving in the fertile Louisiana soil. This is the only brewery in Louisiana that is producing hops. Of course, the tiny plot will not be able to sustain all the needs of the business but it definitely speaks to the seriousness of the brewers.
The sky is the limit for Broken Wheel Brewery.
109 Tunica Dr E
Mon 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Tue 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Wed 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Thu 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sat 11:00 am – 9:00 pm