Abita co-founder Jim Patton dies

Jim Patton, one of the founders of Abita Brewing Co. in Louisiana, died last month of unknown causes. He was 59.

Patton helped start the brewery in the town of Abita Springs in 1986, the first “craft brewery” to open in the south and one of the first in the United States.

“The first night we rolled out with a beer, we had one bar in New Orleans and one bar in Mandeville that carried it,” Patton told the Miami’s New Times newspaper last month. “We got some of the local television media in there, and they had some pictures of people dancing on the bar, and you just can’t buy that.”

Abita made 1,500 barrels of beer its first year. It now produces more than 125,000 barrels annually. Patton sold his stake in the company in 1997.

After leaving Abita, Patton helped start Zea Rotisserie & Brewery and did the initial brewing. Later he brewed at Key West Brewery in Florida, and recently became involved with the launch of Wynwood Brewing Co. in Miami.

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