“We should buy a bar!” It’s a revelation that has been shouted inside the walls of smoke-filled rooms across America since its incarnation, and it has likely been sealed each time with the clinking of glasses and an upturned head. But rarely, in the sobering sun of the morning after, does it come to fruition – and even more rarely does it come to fruition quite so effectively as it has in the case of Trey Carter and his latest venture.
If you have spent any night of the past three years in Strange Brew, then you have likely met once bar-back, then bartender, then manager, and now owner Trey Carter. You may even know him as “sweet baby Trey,” the affectionate moniker earned from his loyal patrons and friends.
“It’s amazing what happens when you’re just plain nice to people,” he admits when I ask why he believes the bar has flourished under his ownership since March of this year. “I have been working ridiculous hours to make it succeed, but I wouldn’t succeed without the people who come in here multiple times a week just to support me.” He goes on to list name after name, some of whom he says even apologize for not making it out enough.
That’s when I began to get an unusual feeling from talking with Trey about why he purchased the longstanding Shreveport icon. It started to seem as though the decision was not as financially motivated as one would think. He didn’t, I surmised, buy the bar for himself after all; he bought it for Shreveport.
“F**k the money,” he candidly confesses. “I think my generation is of the age that we can stop just talking about how great Shreveport could be and actually start doing something about it.” This is a claim he backs up by making decisions he admits were risky, such as increasing the quantity and oddity of Strange Brew’s already-impressive craft beer selection. Shreveport craft beer diehards responded in turn by drinking through his inventory of a $120 brew in less than two weeks – a beer he expected to house for two years.
“I was shocked to see it sell so quickly. So, now I’m on a mission to keep bringing beers to people they wouldn’t have the chance to taste otherwise.” Trey has actually already begun his mission by hosting Strange Brew’s first beer-tasting. It was a sold-out affair that offered participants the chance to sample eighteen different brews.
On the other side of the bar, he has already seen record turnouts after mandating live music every Saturday night – a move contrary to the city norm as it continues to battle a seeming arts-culture recession. “If I feel like there is something I can do that will benefit Shreveport, then I am going to do it,” he passionately proclaims as we talk about his plans for the stage. “There is a lot of musical talent in this city, and it’s getting younger. I want to make sure it has a place to be heard, and I’m going to continue to support it at all costs.”
And that support has not gone unnoticed as touring acts, now aware of the Strange Brew reputation, seek to book dates in Shreveport. “I don’t think I have the best venue, but I think I have one of the best crowds. My hope is that that kind of support will spread throughout the city and we make Shreveport better together.”
At the heart of it all is a boy and his beer. “I love beer,” Trey says. “Craft beer brings people together. I want people from all walks of life to be able to feel like they’re at home here.” So, on any given night, take a turn toward Strange Brew. Kick back at the bar, crack open a beer with a name you can’t pronounce, and talk to someone you don’t know. You may find that this place isn’t so strange after all.
Strange Brew is located near the intersection of Stoner Avenue and Centenary Boulevard at 235 Wall Street, Shreveport, La 71101.