The Unique Story of Abita Root Beer and Its Louisiana Roots

Located just 43 miles north of New Orleans, in the quaint town of Covington, Louisiana, the Abita Brewing Company stands as a beacon of craft brewing innovation and tradition. Founded in 1986 by Jim Patton and Rush Cumming, Abita has not only become synonymous with quality craft beers but has also carved a niche for itself with its distinctive non-alcoholic beverages, most notably the Abita Root Beer.

Abita Root Beer is a beloved beverage that diverges from typical root beer formulas. Unlike many commercial root beers that rely on high-fructose corn syrup for sweetness, Abita’s version is crafted with pure Louisiana sugarcane, enriching the drink with a deep, natural sweetness that echoes the state’s rich sugarcane heritage. This choice of sweetener is not just about adhering to tradition; it’s about quality and creating a more robust and wholesome flavor profile that stands out in the crowded market of non-alcoholic brews.

The significance of Abita Brewing Company in the craft beer industry extends beyond its innovative recipes and local ingredient sourcing. It represents the culture and spirit of Louisiana – bold, authentic, and inviting. The location of the brewery, close to the cultural powerhouse of New Orleans, allows it to draw inspiration from the vibrant local music, food, and art scenes, which is reflected in the creativity and quality of its products.

Moreover, the introduction of Abita Root Beer has allowed the brewery to reach a wider audience, including those who prefer non-alcoholic options. Whether served on a warm afternoon or paired with rich Louisiana dishes, Abita Root Beer offers a taste of the South that is refreshing and nostalgic. It stands as a testament to Abita’s commitment to quality and innovation, making it a significant player not just in the realm of beers, but also in the broader beverage industry.

LocationCovington, Louisiana, 43 miles north of New Orleans
Founded1986 by Jim Patton and Rush Cumming
Notable ProductsAbita Root Beer, crafted with pure Louisiana sugarcane
Key FeaturesNo high-fructose corn syrup, uses natural sugarcane
SignificanceRepresents Louisiana’s culture; bold, authentic, and inviting
ImpactContributes to craft beer industry; innovative recipes and local ingredient sourcing
AudienceIncludes non-alcoholic beverage consumers

History and Founding

The Abita Brewing Company was born from the aspirations and ingenuity of Jim Patton and Rush Cumming, who established the brewery in 1986 in Abita Springs, Louisiana. Both founders brought a passion for quality and a visionary approach to the craft brewing scene, which was just beginning to burgeon across America. They chose Abita Springs not only for its picturesque setting but also for its unique natural resource—pristine artesian well water, which they recognized as the perfect foundation for crafting exceptional beers.


The original brewery was modest, housed in a small facility that was once the heart of downtown Abita Springs. As the popularity of their beers grew, the need for expansion led to the transformation of this original site into what is now known as the Abita Brew Pub. This venue has since become a cultural hub in the town, offering a cozy spot for both locals and tourists to enjoy the full range of Abita’s brews, along with a menu featuring local cuisine, in the very place where the brewery’s story began.

FoundersJim Patton and Rush Cumming
Year Established1986
LocationAbita Springs, Louisiana
Reason for Location ChoicePicturesque setting and access to pristine artesian well water
Original FacilityModest facility in the heart of downtown Abita Springs
ExpansionOriginal site transformed into the Abita Brew Pub
Significance of Brew PubCultural hub offering local brews and cuisine, preserving the brewery’s origins

Brewery Overview

From the outset, Abita Brewing Company differentiated itself through its use of local artesian well water, drawing from wells that tap into the Southern Hills aquifer system. This water is naturally pure, filtered through thick layers of sand and clay, and free from any chemical treatment, providing a clean and stable base for brewing. The quality of this water is a critical component in the brewery’s recipe for success, contributing to the distinct taste and clarity of its beers.

One of the flagship beers that emerged early on was Abita Turbodog Ale, a dark brown ale that quickly became a favorite among craft beer enthusiasts. Launched in the early years of the brewery, Turbodog gained a significant accolade in August 2005 when Stuff Magazine named it the best beer made in America. This recognition was pivotal, placing Abita on the national map and solidifying its reputation as a maker of fine beers.

Another notable brew, the Abita Bock, has also earned its place in the spotlight. It was listed among the Top 10 Spring Beers by Fox News in 2012, celebrated for its rich, malty flavor that perfectly captures the essence of spring. Abita Bock is particularly special as it was the brewery’s first seasonal brew, available from January through March, and has remained a seasonal favorite among the brewery’s offerings.

The accolades for these beers underscore the commitment to quality that Abita Brewing Company has upheld since its founding. Each brew is a testament to the founders’ initial vision and the rich resources of their chosen home in Louisiana. The continued use of artesian well water, combined with careful selection of ingredients and innovative brewing techniques, allows Abita to produce a wide range of beers that are not only loved locally but are also respected on a national scale.

Today, the brewery continues to expand and innovate while staying true to the roots established by Patton and Cumming over three decades ago. Whether it’s the deep, chocolaty notes of Turbodog Ale or the seasonal zest of Abita Bock, the essence of Louisiana’s heritage and natural bounty is captured in every sip. The transformation from a small local brewery to a leader in the craft beer industry is a story of passion, quality, and a deep connection to place, exemplified by the ongoing success and popularity of Abita Brewing Company’s diverse beer lineup.

Unique AttributeUse of local artesian well water from the Southern Hills aquifer system
Water QualityNaturally pure, filtered through sand and clay, chemical-free
Flagship BeerAbita Turbodog Ale
RecognitionNamed best beer in America by Stuff Magazine in August 2005
Another Notable BrewAbita Bock
Abita Bock RecognitionListed among Top 10 Spring Beers by Fox News in 2012
Seasonal AvailabilityJanuary through March
Impact and LegacyTransformed from a local brewery to a leader in the craft beer industry

Production Growth and Capacity

Since its inception in 1986, the Abita Brewing Company has witnessed a remarkable trajectory in production growth and capacity expansion. Starting with a modest production of 1,500 barrels in its first year, the brewery’s capacity has expanded dramatically to meet increasing demand. By 2011, Abita was brewing over 130,000 barrels of beer annually, along with an additional 5,000 barrels of root beer, showcasing a substantial increase in production capabilities.


This growth necessitated technological advancements and infrastructure improvements. In August 2013, Abita made a significant enhancement to its production facilities by adding a new 200-barrel brewing system alongside its existing 100-barrel system. This upgrade effectively increased the brewery’s bottling speed from 150 bottles per minute to a staggering 400 bottles per minute. Such developments not only augmented production efficiency but also ensured the maintenance of high-quality standards even at increased volumes, highlighting Abita’s commitment to innovation and excellence in brewing.

Initial Production (First Year)1,500 barrels
Production by 2011130,000 barrels of beer and 5,000 barrels of root beer annually
Technological AdvancementsAdded a new 200-barrel brewing system in 2013
Existing System100-barrel system
Bottling Speed IncreaseFrom 150 bottles per minute to 400 bottles per minute
Impact of UpgradesEnhanced production efficiency and maintained high-quality standards

Flagship and Seasonal Brews

Abita Brewing Company’s product lineup is a rich tapestry of flavors, showcasing a deep understanding of craft brewing. The brewery produces seventeen year-round flagship brews, each with its unique character and taste profile, catering to a diverse range of palates. These include:

  1. Andy Gator – A Helles Doppelbock that is strong and robust.
  2. Strawgator – The perfect blend of strawberry juice and a traditional Doppelbock.
  3. Abita Amber – A Munich-style lager that offers a smooth, malty flavor.
  4. Alphagator Golden Ale – A bold, hoppy ale with a crisp finish.
  5. Light – A light lager with a clean, refreshing taste.
  6. Turbodog – A dark brown ale renowned for its rich, chocolaty flavor.
  7. Purple Haze – A raspberry lager that presents a fruity aroma and a slight purple color.
  8. Jockamo I.P.A. – A traditional IPA with bold hop flavor and a golden amber color.
  9. Restoration Pale Ale – A crisp, hoppy ale that supports coastal restoration efforts.

In addition to these staples, Abita offers seasonal beers that reflect the changing flavors of the seasons, as well as specialty brews in their Harvest and Big Beers series. The Harvest series includes brews such as the Strawberry Lager and Pecan Ale, incorporating local ingredients that provide a fresh, seasonal taste. The Big Beers series features high-gravity options like the Bourbon Street Imperial Stout, aged in bourbon barrels to achieve rich, complex flavors.

Seasonal offerings are timed to enhance the consumer’s experience throughout the year, with options like the Mardi Gras Bock available during the Carnival season, which brings a festive mood with its rich, malty character.

Among the most popular beers are Purple Haze, a distinctly Louisiana brew with its infusion of raspberries, and Andy Gator, a powerful yet smooth beer that commands attention with its higher alcohol content and deep flavors. Jockamo I.P.A. appeals to hop lovers with its robust and spicy hop presence balanced by a medium body and malty sweetness, making it a favorite among IPA enthusiasts.

The variety and quality of Abita’s flagship and seasonal brews have not only helped it carve a niche in the crowded craft beer market but also have enabled it to create a loyal customer base that appreciates the authenticity and creative brewing that Abita represents. This diverse range of offerings is a testament to the brewery’s innovative spirit and its commitment to celebrating the rich culinary heritage of Louisiana through each uniquely crafted beer.

Year-Round Flagship BrewsSeventeen varieties, including Andy Gator, Strawgator, Abita Amber, Alphagator Golden Ale, Light, Turbodog, Purple Haze, Jockamo I.P.A., Restoration Pale Ale
Seasonal BeersReflects seasonal flavors; includes Mardi Gras Bock during Carnival
Specialty SeriesHarvest series (e.g., Strawberry Lager, Pecan Ale) and Big Beers series (e.g., Bourbon Street Imperial Stout)
Popular BeersPurple Haze, Andy Gator, Jockamo I.P.A.
Unique AttributesUse of local ingredients, high-gravity options, aged in bourbon barrels
Market ImpactCarved a niche in the craft beer market; loyal customer base appreciates creativity and authenticity
Culinary HeritageCelebrates Louisiana’s rich culinary heritage through uniquely crafted beers

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Abita Brewing Company is not only renowned for its craft beers but also for its distinctive non-alcoholic beverages, highlighting the versatility and innovation of the brewery. Abita Root Beer is perhaps the most celebrated among these offerings. Unlike most commercial root beers, which typically use high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, Abita Root Beer is crafted using pure Louisiana sugarcane. This choice of sweetener lends a richer, more natural flavor profile that stands out for its clarity and depth, embodying the local agricultural traditions of Louisiana.

The process of brewing Abita Root Beer involves traditional brewing techniques that are adapted to non-alcoholic production, ensuring the preservation of natural flavors without the addition of artificial preservatives. This beverage has become a staple in the product line, appealing not just to those avoiding alcohol but also to anyone seeking a genuinely refreshing and uniquely flavored soda.


In addition to the flagship root beer, Abita has expanded its non-alcoholic lineup to include seasonal offerings like the King Cake flavored soda. This particular soda is typically available around Mardi Gras and is inspired by the traditional King Cake dessert, featuring flavors of cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of sugarcane sweetness, capturing the festive spirit of Louisiana’s most famous holiday.

Flagship Non-Alcoholic BeverageAbita Root Beer
Sweetener UsedPure Louisiana sugarcane
Distinguishing FeaturesRich, natural flavor; no artificial preservatives; stands out for its clarity and depth
Production TechniquesTraditional brewing techniques adapted for non-alcoholic production
Seasonal Non-Alcoholic OfferingsKing Cake flavored soda, available during Mardi Gras
King Cake Soda FeaturesFlavors of cinnamon, vanilla, and sugarcane sweetness; inspired by the King Cake dessert
Market AppealPopular among both non-alcohol consumers and those seeking unique soda flavors

Distribution and Accessibility

Since its foundation, Abita Brewing Company has significantly broadened its reach, both domestically and internationally. Abita’s beers and non-alcoholic beverages are now distributed across 46 states in the U.S. and in several international markets, including Puerto Rico. This wide distribution network has been instrumental in promoting Louisiana’s brewing culture far beyond its borders.

Domestically, one of the unique places where Abita products can be enjoyed is at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort in Orlando, Florida. This resort, themed after New Orleans, offers guests a taste of the Louisiana lifestyle. Abita beers are served on tap in the resort’s dining establishments, providing a genuine New Orleans experience to visitors from around the globe. The availability of Abita beers in such a high-profile and culturally themed environment underscores the brand’s appeal and its association with authentic Louisiana hospitality.

Internationally, Abita has made significant inroads into new markets, with notable presence in Aruba and Germany. In Aruba, Abita became the first craft beer to be exclusively distributed, starting with Bourbon Express and later by Divino N.V. as of April 2018. German beer enthusiasts can enjoy Abita selections like Turbodog, Wrought Iron IPA, and even the non-alcoholic Abita Root Beer, catering to a diverse audience that appreciates quality American craft beers and unique sodas.

These strategic expansions into international markets reflect Abita’s commitment to growth and its ability to appeal to a global audience. The international presence not only enhances the brand’s visibility but also allows beer aficionados and soda lovers around the world to experience a piece of Louisiana’s rich brewing heritage.

The distribution strategy of Abita Brewing Company, combined with its innovative product lineup, including its signature Abita Root Beer and seasonal beverages like the King Cake flavored soda, illustrates the company’s dynamic approach to meeting consumer needs and preferences across diverse markets. Through thoughtful expansion and a commitment to quality, Abita continues to make significant contributions to the global craft beverage scene, promoting Louisiana’s unique flavors and festive spirit worldwide.

Domestic Distribution46 states in the U.S. including high-profile locations like Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
International DistributionPuerto Rico, Aruba, Germany
Unique Domestic LocationDisney’s Port Orleans Resort in Orlando, Florida
Cultural Themed OfferingsNew Orleans-themed environment; serves Abita beers on tap
International Market ExpansionAbita was the first craft beer to be exclusively distributed in Aruba; available beers in Germany include Turbodog, Wrought Iron IPA, and Abita Root Beer
Strategic Market ImpactEnhances brand visibility and promotes Louisiana brewing culture globally
Product LineupIncludes flagship Abita Root Beer and seasonal King Cake flavored soda
Global AppealAppeals to international audiences with a taste for quality American craft beers and unique sodas

Abita Brew Pub

Located in the picturesque town of Abita Springs, the Abita Brew Pub is a vital piece of the Abita Brewing Company’s history and its ongoing narrative. Situated at the original site of the brewery, the brew pub serves as a direct link to Abita’s roots, housed in what was once the production facility before the brewery’s expansion. Today, it operates as an independent entity yet retains a close and symbiotic relationship with the brewery, embodying the community-centered spirit that Abita was built upon.

The Abita Brew Pub offers a comprehensive tasting experience with a menu that includes many of the brewery’s flagship and seasonal beers. Additionally, patrons can enjoy several exclusive brews that are available only at the pub. These exclusive offerings often include experimental batches and special brews that the brewers test in smaller batches, providing visitors with unique flavors that can’t be found anywhere else. This exclusivity not only draws locals and tourists alike but also keeps the beer lineup exciting and dynamic, reflecting the innovative spirit of Abita Brewing Company.

The pub itself is more than just a place to enjoy good beer; it’s a culinary destination. The menu features local Louisiana cuisine that pairs perfectly with their beers, from spicy Cajun dishes to rich, comforting Southern staples. The atmosphere at the brew pub is laid-back and deeply infused with the local culture, making it a perfect spot for family gatherings, casual meetings, or just a relaxed afternoon spent enjoying good food and great beer.

LocationAbita Springs, at the original site of Abita Brewing Company
Historical SignificanceFormer production facility of Abita Brewing Company
OperationOperates as an independent entity with a close relationship to the brewery
OfferingsFlagship and seasonal beers, plus exclusive brews only available at the pub
Exclusive BrewsIncludes experimental batches and special brews in smaller batches
Culinary ExperienceLocal Louisiana cuisine paired with beers; includes Cajun dishes and Southern staples
AtmosphereLaid-back, infused with local culture; ideal for family gatherings and casual meetings

The Abita Brewing Company has significantly shaped the craft beer industry, not only in Louisiana but across the United States and beyond. Since its establishment in 1986, Abita has been at the forefront of the craft brewing movement, introducing innovative brewing techniques and a range of distinctive beers that have garnered both national and international acclaim. From its use of local, high-quality ingredients like Louisiana sugarcane in its root beer to the creative fusion of traditional and modern brewing methods, Abita has consistently demonstrated its commitment to quality and flavor.

Abita’s influence extends beyond its products. The brewery has played a pivotal role in promoting Louisiana’s brewing culture, showcasing the rich culinary and cultural traditions of the region through its beers. The brewery’s success has also contributed to the local economy, supporting agriculture and fostering tourism in Abita Springs and surrounding areas. By hosting events, offering brewery tours, and maintaining a strong presence in community activities, Abita has cemented itself as a key player in Louisiana’s cultural landscape.

Moreover, the company’s efforts in sustainability and community involvement — from utilizing energy-efficient brewing technology to engaging in local restoration projects — reflect a business model that prioritizes not just profit but the well-being of its community and environment. This approach has not only endeared the brand to consumers but has also set a standard for corporate responsibility in the craft brewing industry.

In conclusion, Abita Brewing Company’s journey from a small local brewery to a leader in the craft beer market is a testament to its dedication to excellence, innovation, and community engagement. Through its diverse range of beers, its cultural impact, and its commitment to sustainability, Abita continues to be an ambassador for Louisiana’s rich brewing heritage, delighting beer lovers worldwide and nurturing a legacy that will influence future generations of brewers and beer enthusiasts.