Great Raft Brewing in Shreveport, Louisiana was opened in 2013 by co-founders Andrew and Lindsey Nations. Over the years, they have been involved in countless community initiatives and supported various nonprofit organizations including cyclists, the humane society, raising money for COVID support, and promoting equality in the brewing community. Co-founder Andrew Nations explained to The Business Download, “When we started Great Raft Brewing, we knew we wanted to make great beer, but it was about more than that.” They set out to “build a great beer culture within the communities (they) serve.”
Many of the employees and customers at Graft Raft have been avid cyclists and involved in various outlets of the cycling community. Andrew Nations shared that, “Supporting the bike community was an easy decision for us since our first days of brewing. We provide discounts on beer, community-focused slow rolls around town, and free tune-up days throughout the year.”
Great Raft Brewing was the first business in Louisiana to be recognized as a Bike Friendly Business by the League of American Cyclists. Nations added, “Our Silver Award status designates that we have documented our outreach and impact in our community. Just like our beer, we like to measure our success on a national level, and participating in this award system inspires us to continually work towards pushing our involvement in cycling.”
The Nations adopted their pup, Levon in 2008. He is a brand ambassador and is in charge of keeping morale high. As “dog people” and owners of a brewery that is less than a mile away from their local humane society, the Nations have produced multiple humane society events over the years. They partnered with a local baker to provide the spent grain from the brewery to make dog treats. “Those treats were then sold in the tasting room with all proceeds benefiting the Humane Society,” said Nations.
During the pandemic, hospitality and medical workers were hit particularly hard. Nations described how a member of his team focused on standing up for those communities. “Our Director of Sales, Bob Thames spent much of 2020 raising funds to support folks in our industry who suffered income loss due to COVID-19. We were thrilled to support Bob in his efforts, which raised over $60,000 to provide direct monetary support to affected individuals.” Great Raft also partners within the local community to support health care providers and students at the nearby medical school.
In addition to their ongoing efforts to aid their community, Great Raft released a beer in the fall of 2020 called, “Each & Every.” Proceeds from this beer went to the Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling to provide scholarships to BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) in the beer industry for career advancement. It was very successful. Nations explained, “Our community is very active in supporting this endeavor, purchasing the beer both at the brewery and at local bars and restaurants. We get messages from customers letting us know how much they appreciate what we set out to do with the project, as well as asking us to brew it again. The immense support allowed us to donate over $6,000 to the MJF last year, and we hope to provide a similar platform to other relevant causes in the future.”
Great Raft is committed to its community and has set out to do as much good as it can.