Flying Heart Brewing has transitioned from a production brewery to a brew pub offering a full menu of food items for lunch and dinner. Co-owner Ben Hart said that wasn’t part of the original plan, but they adapted to changes in the market.
State law prohibits production breweries from selling food. In the past, Flying Heart brought food trucks on site to offer food to patrons. Late last year, Flying Heart began serving Wooden Spoon Pizza exclusively. That relationship began out of a common interest in craft brewing.
“I met Jeff (Judge) a couple of years back, shortly after we opened,” Hart said. “He had his face up the window one day looking in while I was brewing beer. I opened the door and we started talking. I invited him in to talk about the brewing process here. He was a home brewer, so on one Saturday he happened to be home-brewing I went by his house, and we hung out in his garage and made some beer together.”
Hart knew Judge and his wife, Tammy, enjoyed the culinary side of things and made sandwiches at The Wooden Spoon. He said they began to talk about pizza, “because what goes better together than beer and pizza.” It didn’t take long for them to realize they had hit on a winning combination.
“There’s so much variety in pizza and beer,” Hart said. “The more we talked about it, we thought this really is something that could be fun. When Jeff started up, we knew at the beginning of the year we were going to merge together. For legal reasons, we had to keep everything separate until the beginning of the year when we made that transition. Since then, it’s been all one place.”
With the change, Flying Heart Brewing and Pub is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week with a family-friendly environment. In addition to year-round and seasonal beers, Flying Heart makes its own non-alcoholic root beer. The menu includes a variety of pizza, sandwiches and salads. Salt and minerals are added to the water in the pizza crust to emulate New York City water and authentic New York style crust, he said.
“We’re going to continue to evolve our menu,” Hart said. “When we come out with a new beer, we’ll probably have a new pizza to match it.”
Evolution is nothing new to Flying Heart. Hart said the original plans didn’t include opening a restaurant, but changes in the craft beer market prompted the change. He said about 6,000 breweries are operating now, and the larger breweries are buying many of the smaller operations and taking them to a national scale.
“What you are seeing is a tightening of tap space available, shelf space and those types of things,” Hart said. “It’s become increasingly difficult out in the market. So that helped drive our decision. When we looked into the long-term strategy of what we wanted to do, where we are at with what’s coming into the downtown Bossier area, it just made more and more sense to us.”
He added that state laws regulating craft beer also factored into the transition.
“In the state of Louisiana, the legislation is a bit behind the times if you look at our neighboring states,” he said. “In Texas, for example, they can self-distribute, which means they can take their product and sell it directly to a restaurant or bar. In Louisiana, I have to sell it directly to a wholesaler, who then in turn sells it to a restaurant or bar. That decreases our profit margin and puts us at the mercy of somebody else. In Arkansas, in their tasting rooms they can serve food, they can self-distribute and they can sell wine. What that allows is you can make a profit many different ways.”
Hart said future plans include a beer garden that will be for patrons 18 and older. Flying Heart still will offer tours and host pairing and tasting events. And they plan to do more with the home-brewing community.
“As a restaurant, we can have them here and we can get special permits where they can bring beer here and give out samples, where in the past we couldn’t do that,” Hart said. “They weren’t allowed to bring their beer on premise. It’s actually going to give us a lot more flexibility.”
Flying Heart Brewing and Pub is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Follow Flying Heart on Facebook for more information.
By Scott Anderson