BIRTH OF A BREWERY
Flying Heart Brewery in Bossier City to open in March
Bossier City can add “brewery” to their list of accomplishments when Flying Heart Brewery opens in March.
Meet owners Jason LeBleu, Ben Hart and Ben Pattillo. They’re three friends with one goal to brew their beer.
“I see this venture as a true convergence of paths. This was no happenstance,” said LeBleu, a soon-to-be-retired lieutenant colonel for Barksdale Air Force Base. “We quickly learned that we all have diverse skills and interests that dovetail seamlessly together.”
The brewery, located in Bossier City’s former Fire Station No. 6. at 700 Barksdale Blvd., is sandwiched between easy-access interstates and riverfront casinos — two things that attracted them to the location. Another thing their water source.
“I have extensive experience in Bossier and the surrounding area, so I knew Bossier City would provide a high- quality, consistent water source for our brewing venture,” said Patilllo, who works as a civil engineer specializing in water. LeBleu focuses on the fermentation process, and Hart works closely with grain. All three of their wives also participate in the brewing process as well as management.
LeBleu said the idea to create a brewery came from a backyard project four years ago when he built a pizza oven. After researching concepts online, LeBleu created his own outdoor oven for baking artisan-style flatbread pizzas.
There was one problem though — never enough beer.
“Ben and Elizabeth Pattillo took it one step further and approached me about doing something about it,” he said. “They mentioned that they had a friend in Arkansas by the name of Bill Furnas who was an accomplished and avid home brewer. They suggested a road trip that ended up being very inspirational.”
Home brewers are a very supportive breed, and Furnas was no exception, LeBleu said.
“His knowledge and advice turned us on to the world of craft brewing,” LeBleu said. “When I contacted by my friend Ben Hart about making some beer to go with all of this pizza, it was as if the next leg of the path had just been revealed to both of us, as well.”
The trio acquired the closed fire station several months ago and had hoped to be to open by the beginning of the year but still have few regulatory hurdles in the way.
The craft brewery gets its name from the Flying Heart Ranch, which co-owner Hart’s family ran in Washington state. Hart has a cattle brand from that ranch, showing a winged heart, which features the company logo.The brewery plans to initially specialize in ales, those with a “mellow character,” as LeBleu put it.
“We have a Kolsch, an Amber, a Golden Ale, an American Black Ale, a Robust Porter and a Milk Stout,” he said. “We are working with our distributor, Glazier, to finalize the ones that we will release to the public via kegs at bars and restaurants. Some of the beers will initially only be available at the tasting room.”
The fire station’s drying tower will be painted on its Interstate 20 face showcasing the Flying Heart labels bearing such names as Black Heart, Firehouse Blonde and Barrel 52, a nod to the bombers at Barksdale. The doors to the station’s engine bay will be replaced with glass, and the bay itself will be the tasting room.
Inside the tasting room is a large walk-in cooler, originally made in 1937 for a local florist. The cooler will chill and dispense the beer.
“(The cooler) is the centerpiece of our tasting room standing in the middle of the bay right behind the bar,” Hart said. “The oak has been sanded and given a new clear coat. Our 12 taps will come directly out of the front.”
The team also plan to build a courtyard out front and fence in the surrounding area.
Flying Heart Brewery hopes to produce at least 60 31-gallon barrels of various beers a month. At first, the brews will be sold on-site in 64-ounce “growlers” and in kegs at local restaurants and bars, but eventually their brands will be sold in labeled bottles.
GET TO KNOW THE OWNERS
Name: Jason LeBleu
Hometown: Boerne, Texas
Before the beer: Lt. Col at Barksdale Air Force Base. LeBleu entered the Air Force as an air battle manager and served in South Korea, later cross-training to be a navigator with an electronic warfare specialization. LeBleu was deployed with B-52’s in response to September 11, 2001 and served in Iraq.
Beer of choice: Complex porters and stouts. Definitely ales.
What beer do you recommend others try? Barrel 52. “It’s a very hearty porter style with bourbon barrel aging influences. The result is just overflowing with silky vanilla and coffee notes. It’s a true sipping beer, which I recommend pacing yourself on because its naturally got a kick.”
Name: Ben Hart
Hometown: Cowiche, Wa.
Before the beer: Owner of Custom Arts Dental Laboratory in Shreveport. Hart also served four years in the Air Force and left in 1997 as a Sr. Airman. He was previously stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base and has relocated now to the area.
Beer of choice: Black Heart. “Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout is my favorite of other beers.”
What beer do you recommend others try and why? “I have a love for dark beers. Black Heart is our American Black Ale. It’s a dark beer, but as our label says, it’s a smooth black ale that is very drinkable. It is very rich with chocolate and black cherry notes. It has a very silky mouth feel and leaves you ready for the next one. Also the three hop varieties in this selection come from the pacific northwest, my old stomping ground.”
Name: Ben Pattillo
Hometown: McLeod, Texas
Before the beer: Civil engineer. “I specialize in water treatment and have for the past 12 years.”
Beer of choice: Louisiana Amber. “I prefer darker beers with a heavier, but not overly robust body, so I tend to gravitate toward Ambers.
What beer do you recommend others try and why? “Our Firehouse Blonde Ale. As previously stated, I prefer darker beers, but our Firehouse Blonde is a phenomenal brew. If you prefer lighter beers, then you'll definitely appreciate this ale.”