St. Gabriel’s first microbrewery and “art farm,” Istrouma Brewing is also the region’s newest family-friendly destination at Sugar Farms
Housed in a converted barn on lush farmland along Bayou Paul Road in St. Gabriel, Istrouma Brewing is far from your average taproom experience.
The highly anticipated development from owners John and Joanna Haynes opened to the public in October, officially becoming Iberville Parish’s first craft brewery. The project has been a dream nurtured by the Haynes family since they first relocated to St. Gabriel a decade ago, but one that took almost eight years to come to fruition.
Welcome to the “Art Farm”
Istrouma is more than just a microbrewery; it’s the anchor of Sugar Farms, a working “art farm” with an on-site eatery, art gallery, and a drive-in theater, too. When they envisioned Sugar Farms, the Haynes family set out to create a fun, family-friendly destination with a casual, country feel, that was still within easy reach for Capital Region residents; the farmhouse brewery is located just a few miles south of Baton Rouge.
Besides Istrouma, the Sugar Farms site is also home to a drive-in movie theater as well as Feed & Seed, a farm-to-table restaurant where guests pair their favorite brews with a selection of cast-iron-fired pizzas and specialty tacos. The kitchen is housed in a converted, vintage Spartan Royal Mansion trailer, where Haynes and his staff hand-shape pies topped with from-scratch sauce, mozzarella cheese from Sugar Farms' Maison de la Crème, farm-made boudin and al pastor, roasted mushrooms, edible flowers, and the like.
The interior of Istrouma presents a colorful study in art-infused countrypolitan-cool. The decor here is an eclectic mix of reclaimed items and memorabilia, from salvaged screen doors to a piano-turned-table, to a booth made from the cab of an old pickup truck. John is a renowned visual artist, and his Louisiana-inspired works adorn the walls of Istrouma’s tap room, which serves double duty as the Gallerie Maison D’Art. Above all, John and Joanna Haynes consider themselves storytellers—for them, Istrouma represents an unparalleled opportunity to share that mission with the broadest possible audience.
John and Joanna Haynes worked with Bank of St. Francisville to bring their dream project to life; John was connected to BSF President and CEO Carter Leak IV through a friend about three years ago. “They are our financial partner in all of our ventures these last few years,” Haynes says.
“You know, when you're dealing with someone's financial life, it’s always uniquely different, just like our fingerprints. I think that what I loved about working with Carter and Bank of St. Francisville is that I don't think that any deal is necessarily always straightforward. We all have different needs and nuances, because your financial needs are unique. One of the things I was really excited about is when we were able to talk about my true needs. We sat down for an hour and he listened as I said, ‘Here are my needs to accomplish my goals and my dreams for the next few years and really, our extended future needs.’ We were able to creatively apply the bank’s parameters into that. My goodness, you can't ask for anything more.”
“It's so nice to be able to actually sit down with your banker and have them across the table,” says John. “Especially during these tough times, you really see who the folks are that want to help make things happen for you. With these big banks, it's just hard to get that personal one-on-one relationship.”
What’s On Tap: Beers Brewed “Off the Land”
Haynes, like most of his brewing team, was a longtime home brewer. In Istrouma, he saw an opportunity to push the limits of craft beer, and experiment with brewing “off the land.” For Haynes, that means incorporating as many high-quality, locally sourced ingredients as possible in all of Istrouma’s offerings. These include honey, locally grown figs, and Louisiana citrus, among others.
“This boutique food market is the future,” says Haynes. “Everything tells a story, and that’s what we’re cultivating.”
Guests can enjoy their pint in the brewery’s beer garden, which looks out upon fields filled with grazing livestock including cows, goats, sheep, and even a herd of stately Texas longhorn cattle. There’s entertainment for kids and adults alike, with yard games including life-size chess and Connect Four, ping pong, and bocce ball. Your four-legged friends are welcome, too—Sugar Farms is pet-friendly and has a bark park next to the brewery, so even the family pup can come along.
“I can say that working with a family bank that truly listens to your personal needs is really like nothing else,” says Haynes. “I'm very thankful for Carter and his bank, and that they were willing to take a family approach. To me, that's everything for an entrepreneur.”
To learn more about how Bank of St. Francisville can help establish, grow, or expand your business, call 225-635-6397 or click here to schedule an appointment. To get more stories like these in your inbox, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.