It’s Beer Thirty on the latest episode of Like a Boss as host, and publisher of Shreveport-Bossier’s business publication BIZ., Sean Green is joined by Flying Heart Brewing Co-owner Ben Hart.
Started by entrepreneuring couples Ben and his wife Leah and Ben and Elizabeth Pattillo, Flying Heart grew from home brewers into a tap room and brewery in 2014. The group purchased the historic Fire Station Number 6 on Barksdale Boulevard in the old downtown Bossier area, becoming the city’s first brewery. The doors opened a year later with seven different styles of beer and the group hasn’t looked back.
Renowned for a cool, funky patio, Flying Heart is putting their money where their mouth is by expanding the front patio to allow for more guests and to maintain the open air vibe while protecting visitors from the elements. And indoors they will be expanding to add another 12 taps and additional bar seating. They have also partnered with Wooden Spoon Pizza to have food inside the brewery and their decision to brew non-alcoholic root beer changes the dynamic where patrons AND their families can attend the brewery.
“We have a lot of people who come in here who say there is nowhere in the area that has this kind of vibe,” Ben said.
In addition to being a unique location that adds to the area’s overall quality of life, Flying Heart gives back to the community because, according to Ben, it’s all a symbiotic relationship.
“We need the community to support us and we want to support them, so we find ways we can give back. We’ve done things with different charities and spread around to all the different nonprofits.”
Ben noted that at the time they started brewing, there were no local breweries.
“There wasn’t a lot of selection. We felt like we could bring something to the nonexistent beer environment.”
And he explained that it all grew from the love of a hobby. When his wife left for a year of deployment, she told his friends to take care of him, which caused his now partner Ben Pattillo to get him into making beer.
“I feel in love with the process. I have a biology background and Ben has an engineering background specializing in water treatment systems so we meshed very well in our ability to take it very far, very quickly.”
“Bossier has never had a brewery, even pre-Prohibition. We said ‘Now is the time to do it. Let’s plant our flag.’”
When looking for their taproom, they needed open warehouse space with air flow. He explained that when they came across the old Fire House No. 6 in what is now the East Bank District, it was “perfect.”
“It had history, character, space, big doors we could open up, and it faces I-20,” Ben said.
But when they moved in, the area was still “Old Bossier” — a neglected, crumbling shadow of what was the heart of Bossier City. All that changed about two years ago with the city set about turning the blight into a vibrant downtown. And Flying Heart was one of the core tenants of this movement.
“It was exciting because Mayor Walker named us as one of the reasons to do the development. Weekend after weekend we were bringing in crowds, people were coming here because of us and I think a light went on in the mayor’s office that now was the time to do it.”
Ben said he can already see the improvement with an increase in traffic and said the East Bank District’s grand opening at the end of November was a huge success.
“I read a study that said to attract millennials, you need a minimum of three breweries and we hit that. With all the cyber and technology industry I really feel this downtown area is going to be huge. I think Bossier City is on the cusp and I see Bossier going up and up. This is just one more part of that.”
It’s quite the life for a Washington state transplant who moved to the area in 1994 while stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base. He said he often gets asked a lot why he never left and the simple answer is: Bossier has everything he needs to feel at home.
“This is a good-sized community. There’s a lot of different things to do and you’re in a good location with access to a lot of amenities and other areas, but it still has that small town feel.”