Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Great Raft 318 in the Lone Star State

     It seems like it was yesterday, but over 3 years ago Great Raft Brewing brought their lineup of beers to our market and East Texas has never been the same. The ability to grab a six pack of Commotion from just about any gas station or grocery store changed the beer game for many of us. Great Raft already felt like they were part of our East Texas craft beer family but bringing their beer to our market solidified that relationship. Great Raft beers are now distributed across the region in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi.

We are happy to report they are shaking things up again! Great Raft Brewing is bringing their wildly popular 318 Golden Ale to the East Texas market. If you are not familiar 318 is their light, refreshing beer brewed with local honey and orange peel. It was originally launched exclusively in the 318 area code in March of 2018 and, according to Great Raft, almost immediately became their most popular beer throughout North Louisiana. Since the launch Great Raft has brewed and packaged over 1,200 barrels of 318 Golden Ale. To put that into perspective that equals nearly 300,000 pints of beer!

Being the only production brewery in Northwest Louisiana, Great Raft set out into the craft beer community “with one goal in mind - to share our beer across the region and create a craft beer culture within the community we serve. Since 2016, East Texas has been a part of that broader community and Great Raft Brewing has been very active in local events and fundraisers, while spreading the craft beer gospel”

East Texas Brews attended the November, 2016 launch parties at Rotolo’s, Lone Star Icehouse and Bootlegger’s in Longview and Charlie’s Backyard in Marshall. Great Raft also had launch parties in Tyler at Razoo's, Old Chicago, Jul’s, Rose City Draft House. From the start Great Raft showed East Texas they were serious about being a part of our community. Despite not being available in the East Texas market 318 Golden Ale still found a way to many a fridge and cooler in the Piney Woods. We certainly muled our fair share back from the Bayou State. Great Raft Brewing has been producing quality beers in Shreveport, Louisiana since 2013. As soon as they opened Shreveport’s first local brewery taproom in December of that year East Texans have been pouring over the state line to hang out at the brewery and enjoy a few pints.

When asked why Great Raft would now bring their formerly 318 area code exclusive beer to East Texas they had this to say:

“And really, as much as folks may not like to admit it, East Texas and Northwest Louisiana are more alike than different. While there may be a state border separating our identities, we actually share something in common - the type of beer we like to drink. The majority of people in our corner of the world like to drink beer that tastes 318 Golden Ale is our answer for people who ask for a no frills, easy-drinking beer. We wanted to share this light, local, full-flavored option with more consumers who will really appreciate it.

And ultimately, the consumers drove our decision to finally send 318 Golden Ale across state lines and out of the area code. We have a lot of fans from East Texas who visit the tasting room often and ask if we would ever consider selling it outside of the 318 Area Code. Instead of hauling it back “Smokey and the Bandit” style, fans will now have options throughout East Texas to purchase locally.”

The ties between Great Raft and East Texas are stronger than ever. For example last year the East Texas Homebrewers Guild brewed a collaboration beer with Great Raft. This beer was even featured at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. What does the East Texas market mean to Great Raft Brewing?

“The East Texas market has supported Great Raft from day one, and our relationship with the homebrewers guild has grown significantly over the last year. The collaboration brew was a first of its kind for us and a fun excuse to brew with our friends from the homebrewing community. The experiences we’ve had at East Texas festivals including Dogtoberfest, Red Dirt Dirt BBQ & Music Festival, and the Zonta Brewfest have been positive. Our mindset from the beginning has been to grow deeper within our backyard and surrounding markets versus expanding into more markets further away from home. There are a lot of thirsty folks in East Texas and we hope to see a 318 Golden Ale in their hands in 2020.”

In the past you would see beer drinkers stay loyal to one brand but as the craft beer community has grown many people have become curious and have expanded their horizons. 318 Golden Ale is very approachable and easy to drink. While it is a craft beer many people who traditionally stay away from craft beers should enjoy this beer. It is light bodied with a subtle citrus kick from the orange peel and is only 4% ABV. 318 Golden Ale costs the same or less than many domestic 12 pack options despite being crafted locally with premium ingredients. Great Raft puts quality and consistency at the forefront. If you tour their brewery you will see firsthand they put their money where their mouth is when it comes to quality. For those who are health conscious it only has 120 calories per can. As a craft beer drinker this beer for me can be the everyday “fridge beer” for the house, pool, golf course, camp out etc.

318 Golden Ale is currently available on draft at your favorite bar and will be available in 6 and 12 packs at your local grocery store, bottle shop or gas station near the end of March. You’ll find it priced lower than most other craft beers but with all the quality you’ve come to expect from Great Raft. Throughout the month of March they will be having launch events across East Texas. We are thrilled to have Great Raft bring another delicious craft beer option to our area!


Joel Patrick Heflin

Friday, March 8, 2019

It's Been a While

We wanted to check in and let everyone know we are still around. We have been quiet here on the website but our Facebook Page has been full of local craft beer news and events. If you aren't following us on Facebook you are missing out on the VAST majority of our content. We'll try to do better about posting our original content here on the website but know that our Facebook Page is currently the best way to keep up with all that is going on in the East Texas craft beer community.

We have been busy visiting breweries and drinking craft beer. We are honing our taste buds and learning more each day so that we can bring better news, reviews and events to you. Feel free to let us know about your craft beer adventures. Send us your pictures and stories and we might share them with our community.

See you soon!

Friday, September 14, 2018


Yes it is again that magical time of year when we get to enjoy over 40 hand crafted beers from our local homebrewers: HomeBierFest!!!

You do not want to miss out on this event. Brewers from all over East Texas, as well as some from Louisiana, will be bringing their homemade craft beers for you to sample while you enjoy live music and several food trucks at Longview's newest park, The Green. 

To attend you must register to become a member of the East Texas Brewers Guild which you can do HERE. Don't worry! You do not have to be a home brewer to join. If you enjoy drinking beer and having a good time you are qualified. It's only $25 to join the guild for a whole year! That give you access to all of their events, meetings as well as discounts at some of your favorite craft beer bars, restaurants and breweries. 

TABC rules prevent memberships being sold the day of the event so make sure you register in advance!


Monday, August 27, 2018

Visit us on Facebook

While we post our articles on this website the majority of information about local beer news and events is posted throughout the day on our Facebook page. Head on over to and see what you've been missing!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Porch at ETX Brewing Co.

After being open for barely over a year the owners of ETX Brewing Co. have taken a chance and bet big: investing capital and time into a new restaurant and taproom. Since opening in January 2017 the brewery has been a hit with the local craft beer community and has rewarded the community of Tyler with a place to enjoy frequently rotating craft brews with friends and family. After recently visiting the new restaurant, and spending some time with the owners, chef, and kitchen manager, we are thrilled to share our experience with you!

Brewpub | The Porch at ETX Brewing Co.
Where | 221 S Broadway Ave, Tyler, TX 
Menu | Pub style shareable food items, salads, burgers, sandwiches, kids menu, ice cream, craft beers, games, and live stage.
Atmosphere |Laid back with classic arcade games, pool table, shuffleboard, darts, live music on the stage all centered around their own craft brews
Hours | LUNCH: Wed-Friday 11-2pm
                     DINNER: Wed & Thurs 4-10pm 
                                      Fri 4-11pm Sat 12-12am
  (lunch will be offered starting Wed Mar. 28th) 

Craft beer fans have been delighted by the rotation of new beers and have remained loyal to Tyler’s newest brewery causing their taproom to often times be standing room only. After witnessing the effect the often unpredictable Texas weather on space in their taproom it quickly became apparent there was a need for more drinking room for their patrons. This winter they decided to pull the trigger and expand into the rest of the building. The idea was a simple one: Provide more room for everyone to enjoy craft beer and fresh foods.  The Porch at ETX Brewing Co. was created after many discussions between the owners, staff, family and friends.  

The Porch offers plenty of shareable portions of food but also has full meals if you are looking satisfy your hunger. Daily hand made fresh ingredients and a rotating menu make the Porch stand out from so many of the regular East Texas restaurants. Kitchen Manager Nate Rhyne made it clear that The Porch will be willing to adapt the menu as frequently as the often changing taps. Expect to see a menu that reflects the community as well as the time of the year.

The pilot brewing system has been upgraded to allow the brewers more options for new rotating seasonal brews, some of which will be exclusive to The Porch, to go along with the expanded tap wall (over 20 taps).

 A few items that are sure to be fan favorites are the Cheese Curds, House ground Burgers/Sliders, Fried Green Beans, and the New Orleans Bread Pudding for desert. Chef Aaron Price has a passion for food and that comes across in every dish.

We never could decide which was more delicious: The apple or blackberry crumble topped with cinnamon ice cream. I'm not a dessert man but this was amazing enough to have me wishing for more!

Along with the plentiful beer selections and delectable food will be classic games - pool table, Pac-man, Big Buck, Golden Tee, shuffle board , and darts.  

The newly built stage overlooks the concrete patio and Broadway through the newly designed garage door that will be complete with a mesh screen cover to keep out those Texas-sized mosquitos on summer nights.

Each table top piece is hand made and lacquered at the brewery providing a wonderful backdrop of fall colors to enjoy your Saturday afternoon Downtown Cherry Brown Ale or a plate of Wisconsin cheese curds.

The original brewery and taproom will stay the same for those that enjoy sitting at the bar and gazing into the beautiful stainless steel fermentation vessels. Owners Brian and Matt Gilstrap have kept the beers fresh and are full of new ideas. You never know you might see next!

In addition to being a great place to enjoy dinner and a beer The Porch is planning on being a lunch destination for those who work in the area. Along with their regular menu they will be offering quick grab and go foods like salads, wraps and sandwiches.  Saturday breakfast is also in the works for those who want to relax while downtown for the Rose City Farmers Market.

All in all we were super impressed by the beer, food and the massive expansion. ETX Brewing went from a place to grab a few beers to a place you and the whole crew can hang out for hours on end. 

The space is beautiful. 

You'll feel right at home the first time you walk through the doors and you'll also know you've found your new favorite hangout

Final Thoughts | We congratulate the entire ETX Brewing Co. family for their vision to expand and add so much to an already impressive lineup of locally brewed craft beer. We are sure the East Texas craft beer community will reward you for your dedication and creativity.

Jeff, Joel and Jonathan