Covington Brewhouse, which is located on the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain, was founded as Heiner Brau by a German brewmaster named Henryk Orlik. Henryk left in 2012, and Covington Brewhouse has absorbed the Heiner Brau and Covington beers under one portfolio. That portfolio includes some classic German styles like a Kölsch, which is still brewed year round, as well as a Maerzen and Oktoberfest, which are seasonals. They also produce three beers under their Covington Collection: Ponchartrain Pilsner, Bayou Bock, and Strawberry Ale, a cream ale with Louisiana strawberry puree.
However, new brewmaster Brian Broussard is planning to take Covington Brewhouse beyond those traditional styles. I recently caught up with Covington Brewhouse rep, Robert Mingo, who told me a little about what’s in store for them.
The Ale Runner: 2013 has brought some changes to Covington Brewhouse. Tell me about what’s been happening since Henryk left.
Robert Mingo: Since Henryk left last summer we have seen a lot of changes, notably a new brewing staff that has revitalized the equipment and brewhouse. There has been a big emphasis on new efficiency and recipe development of old and new beers. The efficiency goals are throughout, from brewing to packaging to shipping/receiving and have all seen great results. We have been working on the brand as well and officially made the switch to Covington Brewhouse as the umbrella company, which allows us more flexibility going forward with our brands and takes away some of the confusion of 2 breweries in 1.
The Ale Runner: I see there’s a new logo and have seen some of the new label designs. When do you think these will be incorporated into the packaged beer?
Robert: The new logo and label art are part of a brand update we have been thinking about. We made a change to Heiner Brau over 3 years ago with Covington Brewhouse, now it is in part a new Covington Brewhouse. All of this work is still in its infancy to be incorporated so we will see when we roll with any new updates. The work on the logo was spot on what we were looking for and the label artwork is extraordinary.
The Ale Runner: I believe the Heiner Brau brands have been moved to seasonal brews now. Is that correct? Will they continue, or are they being phased out?
Robert: The Heiner Brau line is mostly seasonal and special brews now. The Kölsch is brewed year round as an option for people seeking some traditional German beer. Some of the recipes have been archived but could see a limited release in the future. This fall will be another release of the Heiner Brau Octoberfest which is fast approaching, just not as fast as the breweries that already had theirs out in July.
The Ale Runner: You guys released the Bombastic IPA after holding a homebrew contest for an IPA recipe. Any plans to produce any more, or was that a one-and-done?
Robert: The Bombastic IPA is a one-and-done. We had a lot of fun with the homebrewers and the recipe chosen by Brett and Ron Dunham gave us a great beer. We will be doing more of these in the future because we enjoyed it so much. We will be brewing different styles and looking to turn this into a twice-a-year event. It was too much fun not to.
The Ale Runner: I know you guys have been working on an IPA (Anonymous IPA). Can you tell me more about it (hop bill, malts used)? The picture I saw of it made it look a bit amber in color.
Robert: The Anonymous IPA was a small batch system in the brewery that we liked so we brewed more of it. We began rotating some taps for tours on Saturdays so people could taste things that aren’t available in the market from us and to see what we’re working on. The Crystal 30 and Pale Chocolate give it the deeper, rich color and the blend of hops uses some that aren’t in any of our flagships, and we used a lot. The IPA will be the next full release. That has been the project for a long time. Timeline…. I’ll say a couple months tops before it starts popping up. Draft at first as expected. The market name hasn’t been confirmed yet.
The Ale Runner: Any other beers on the radar for commercial release? I know I’ve seen some chatter about test batches of a vanilla porter, pale ale, imperial stout, Belgian tripel and double ESB. These would be some welcome newcomers if you ask me!
Robert: Most of those were for our festival in the spring we had with the Tammany Trace Foundation. It was awesome to have the Beer Garden with all those unique beers. The small batches are rotated in tours sometimes and for fun, but always being considered for bigger special releases. The beers you mentioned that were done for the festival received great responses which is always nice. Keep an eye out for some of our special events this fall like our pin and firkin keg tappings, which are always fun.
The Ale Runner: Do you have any plans to build a taproom at the brewery?
Robert: We are in the process of finding out what we can do within Historic Covington with the downtown building we are in because it would take a lot of work to meet the requirements. It has always been thought about and the new law clarification is very exciting so we are working on it.
The Ale Runner: What does the future hold for Covington Brewhouse? Tell me about the new direction you’re headed.
Robert: This past year has seen a lot of good come out of the brewery and the next year should see plenty more. You can expect new releases and more craft beer centered recipes. We haven’t left the traditional German styles behind but we love to brew and drink exciting styles like all enthusiasts. We fully expect to bring everyone more beers that are refreshing, drinkable, and will challenge palates. Beer is really the best business to be in!
Covington Brewhouse conducts weekly tours every Saturday from 10 AM until noon. Go check them out along with all the other great craft brew happenings on the Northshore one day soon! They are located at 226 East Lockwood Street in historic downtown Covington. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.