Beer connoisseurs flocked to the LSU Rural Life Museum on Saturday to taste a variety of beer flavors from the nearly 260 different types available at the Zapp’s International Beer Fest.
Visitors to the fest filled a 5-ounce tasting cup with whatever beer they chose, which ranged from familiar seasonal beers of local brewery favorites, such as Abita, to rather unusual flavors from small microbreweries or home brewers.
“It’s a beer tasting, not a beer guzzling,” said Rural Life Museum director David Floyd. “If you’re a beer connoisseur and you want to taste different beers, home brews, microbreweries and the big boys — this is where they test all their beers they want to put out a few years from now — this is the place for you.”
Mitchel Graves, economics junior, heard about the beer fest from a friend in CJ Solar Band, which performed for the crowd on the porch of a historic building on the museum grounds.
Graves was accompanied by anthropology junior Abigail Adkins and philosophy junior Taylor Foreman. The group had never been to the fest before and enjoyed the surprisingly large variety of beer available, Adkins said.
Foreman tried a beer called “I Pee Awesome,” which he got from the Baton Rouge Bicycle Brew Club booth, while Adkins was enjoying “The Crandaddy of Them All.”
“I want to try them all,” laughed Adkins.
August “Gus” Rowland is the founder of the Bicycle Brew Club, and he participated in the beer fest for the second time with fellow members of the club at the booth.
The club had several different types of beer available that were brewed in the members’ homes. Some club members had cider available too, Rowland said.
Beer and the Rural Life Museum aren’t something many would usually pair together, Floyd said, but that was exactly the point of the beer fest.
“It reached a market, a group of people that weren’t coming to the museum and didn’t know about it,” Floyd said. “And that was students 21 and older and young professionals. This was a way to introduce them to the place, and it was great because many of them became paid friends of the museum and supporters of the museum.”
The beer fest was a joint venture between Floyd and friend Ron Zappe, founder of Zapp’s Potato Chips. Floyd said he was hesitant when Zappe brought the idea to him, but he agreed because of the potential benefits he thought could come out of the event.
“We started with the idea that we’d maybe have 300 to 400 people come in, and we had about 500 the first year, then the second year we had 1,000, then the third year we had 2,000, then the fourth year we had too many people,” Floyd said. “At that point we said we’re going to limit it to 1,500 people.”
The Rural Life Museum charged $30 for tickets, which were sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
“The money [is] dedicated 100 percent to the Rural Life Museum for the maintenance of the historic buildings here,” Floyd said. “It’s not crowded because we kept it that way. We didn’t want 5,000 people here. We wanted it to feel like a party, but we also wanted everybody to have the opportunity of not standing in long lines to get to the beer. There’s nothing worse than standing in line for two-and-a-half hours and only getting to taste six beers.”