Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cari Caramonta: Mother of Malts

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

It’s a tale as old as time (cue twinkly, sparkly music), boy meets girl, boy likes beer, boy teaches girl to like beer, boy brews beer, girl pushes boy to open commercial brewery, girl make brewery a success while wild boy brews beer all day, girl makes boy get a haircut. Okay, so obviously the story of the Caramonta’s and how they came to own what is one of South Louisiana’s favorite breweries isn’t simple and cliché and would better be accompanied by insane electric guitar riffs…

Cari Caramonta, Co-founder and Creative Director of Gnarly Barley Brewing in Hammond, LA
Cari Caramonta, Co-founder and Creative Director of Gnarly Barley Brewing in Hammond, LA

It all started in 2005 when Cari and Zac Caramonta met at Southeastern Louisiana University. “I really did not know shit about craft beer,” says Cari, “…and then, he opened my eyes to it, brought me to Red, White, and Brew (an awesome beer bar/shop in Hammond) while we were in college to try all of these awesome beers.”

Cari said when Zac expressed a desire to home-brew, he knew it wouldn’t be enough to use a crappy starter kit. After tasting the kinds of beers Zac produced, Cari saw his potential she encouraged him to pursue his love of brewing even further. Zac easily admits that if it weren't for Cari’s support and particular set of skills, he would have never thought of brewing commercially and yours truly would be left without my craft beer spirit animal: Gnarly Barley Brewing.

“Personally, I love building the business. I enjoy marketing and branding. I think it’s cool that we bring a different dynamic to the table,” Cari said. Watching this brewery grow over the past year makes my heart swell. Knowing Zac and Cari well, I know that Gnarly Barley would not be here today if it weren’t for Cari.

Cari has an outgoing, infectious, bad-ass personality… you know, she’s the kind of girl you want to hang out and drink beers with. Website management, social media guru, special event coordinator, checkbook sultan, extra sack of barley fetcher, merchandise designer, distribution liaison, and expert Zac wrangler are a few of her job titles and add to that mother-to-be.

Though Zac brews beers that are absolutely on point, Gnarly Barley would have been like the Titanic without Cari. Sure, everyone was drinking and having a good time and things looked great, until they didn’t, and that’s where Cari comes in. Without her at the helm, Gnarly Barley would have never stepped foot outside of the garage.

Now, if only Cari could answer her phone, introduce herself when people call asking for Zac, and then hang up or leave messages for Zac (that Zac can’t answer because Cari is in charge), all would be better in the wacky world of Gnarly Barley. Let it be known that there are some talented, intelligent, boss ladies in charge of your beer, gentlemen, and I’m sure they’re growing tired of being overlooked and undermined.

Let’s face it, this is Cari’s world and we’re all living in it.

This post is part of a monthly series spotlighting Louisiana women in the business of booze. Previous features include:

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