Abita Still Blazing New Trails Four Decades Deep

Founded in 1986, Abita Brewing is the “original” southeastern US craft brewer and has been making innovative craft beers for nearly 40 years. Abita continues to be one of the leading regional brewers in the southeast and beyond. Among a sea of IPAs, RTDs and FMBs, Abita is generating growth with its core offerings, including its flagship Amber Lager (up 1% YTD in Louisiana). Abita is experiencing exceptional velocity in C-stores and the grocery channel with its AndyGator brand, a unique 8% ABV Doppelbock, which is now the #1-selling 19.2oz can in Louisiana. Remaining relevant also means embracing what’s new, and Abita has big plans for innovation as it moves into 2024. For the first time in its history, Abita will focus on building a brand family around its Gator beers, offering a mixed 12-pack of high ABV beers featuring AndyGator (Helles Doppelbock 8% ABV), StrawGator (Strawberry Doppelbock 8% ABV) and AlphaGator (Imperial IPA 9% ABV). All three brands will have refreshed packaging and be available in 19.2oz canned offerings as well. So how does a brewery nearly four decades deep keep putting points on the board? Stay true to your roots, keep an eye on the trends, and embrace what you do best.

“We look at brewing as a way to express what we love about living in Louisiana,” says Abita’s VP of Marketing, Heidi Guerra. “We’ve got an amazing food and music scene here, so we’re inspired by local ingredients and what pairs well with every occasion – is it Amber with gumbo or a Strawberry Lager at a crawfish boil? We keep the offerings diverse while staying true to our roots, and we find that our commitment to authentic Louisiana experience travels well outside the region.”

Abita was among the first brewers in the 1990s to embrace fruited beers with its beloved raspberry lager, Purple Haze, and Abita has expanded its fruited beer line with year-round StrawGator (a Strawberry Doppelbock), Strawberry Lager and a host of seasonal and special releases featuring Louisiana-inspired ingredients. The company found ways to win with IPA as well, with AlphaGator up 58% YTD. 

Abita is performing strongly at home by continuing to gain share in a LA market that’s losing sales and breaking out along the I-10 corridor while currently shipping to 39 states including Texas, Florida, California and New York. Abita is focused on winning in the southeast through chains like Rouse’s, Publix and HEB, and its sodas are among the first “Beyond Beer” offerings from any craft brewer in the US. That portfolio has expanded to include hop water, hard lemonade, crafted cocktails and sweet tea. 

“The reality is that we can be creative and put our unique Abita twist across a wide variety of beverages so we have challenged ourselves to build a portfolio that pleases a diversity of drinkers,” explains Guerra. “We’ve been making sodas since the early 90s using natural Abita spring water, Louisiana cane sugar and regional ingredients. Our caffeine-free Root Beer trends are accelerating and, because we brew with pure artesian spring water, it was only natural to create a Hop Water which launched in August of this year. We’re fortunate to be able to produce all these brands and packages right here at our home facility without having to outsource that work.”        

Other 2024 innovations include a label refresh for Strawberry Lager, new wraparound cardboard packs for all canned 6-pack offerings, and introducing more canned offerings like Beeracuda, AndyGator 12-oz cans and StrawGator 12-oz cans, all set to premiere in the first half of the year. While breaking new ground, Abita continues to support their local communities through its sustainability and philanthropic efforts.

“We work hard so we can play hard here at Abita,” says Guerra. “We’ve put the Louisiana lifestyle in a bottle, so whether you live here, visit, or just yearn for that flavor of New Orleans – we’ve got something for pretty much everyone.” 

That’s the kind of thinking that can keep you in the craft game for close to 40 years. It’s a recipe for success in a highly competitive field that the industry and its many fans can appreciate. 

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