Here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, The Chimes Restaurant and Tap Room is an icon. Many an LSU student spent their formative beer years in The Chimes, a list that includes myself. I was first introduced to craft beer (and bad European lagers) at The Chimes back in the mid-1990s when I was an LSU student. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I completed their Around The World challenge, where you drink 60 beers from 20 countries over the course of a few months. In college, I used to stick to Guinness and Murphy’s, with the occasional foray into Abita Turbodog and Purple Haze.
However, as craft beer became more popular and more beer-centric restaurants and bars opened, The Chimes tried to hold on to their formula of mostly European lagers on tap with some of the more popular craft. This approach really hurt The Chimes as a beer destination as places like The Bulldog, The Cove, and most recently, The Pelican House opened in Baton Rouge. No longer was The Chimes THE place to go for beer in Baton Rouge. As recently as a few months ago, I walked in and had trouble finding a single draft beer on the wall that excited me. It was boring and tired. And that was a shame, because The Chimes has what is probably the best atmosphere. It’s family friendly, non-smoking, and just a place you can sit around for hours while munching on really good food and drinking beer.
This past Sunday, The Chimes embarked on a project to revamp their entire draft beer lineup. After the brunch rush, they shut down their draft beer lines for a huge makeover. A new draft system has been installed over the past several days, allowing them to up their offerings from 52 taps to 80. The focus has also changed. Gone are many of the tired European macro lagers, and in their place more American craft beers. There’s a big local focus, yet there are still plenty of national and international favorites. The whole system should be online this Thursday night, December 5th. Starting in early 2014, the Around The World program will come to a close, with a new American craft focus on beer destinations and landmarks.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to see The Chimes update their craft beer offerings. It now jumps back to the top of the list of my favorite beer places in Baton Rouge. The food has always been top notch, and now the beer is there to match it. One of my favorite aspects of The Chimes is that their standard serving is a 20-ounce imperial pint, and there are no frozen pint glasses (hint to all the other beer bars here!). You can also get your favorite beer in a smaller 10-ounce glass.
Check out The Chimes offerings on their BeerMenus.com page, which is now updated with all 80 tap listings. They have done a great job of updating that menu and printing new menus for the taproom itself, which is huge for someone trying to figure out what they’d like to drink.
I’m looking forward to getting over there very soon to enjoy the new offerings. Hopefully if you’re reading this in Baton Rouge, you’ll go check them out soon. And if you’re going to be in town over the holidays, go visit The Chimes for a laid back and family friendly beer experience.