Brooks Hamaker, 59, passed away doing what he loved, brewing a brown ale at Cane River Brewery in Natchitoches, Louisiana on November 1st, 2020
Brooks was born on August 2, 1961 in Monroe, Louisiana, the first child of Charles L. Hamaker and Brooks E. Hamaker (Brooksie). He has two brothers Tom and Will Hamaker. He graduated from River Oaks School in Monroe, Louisiana and then attended University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. Brooks was wed to Robin Michelle Bailey on August 23, 1984. They were married 23 years. They raised their children Miles Franklin Hamaker and Charles Graham Hamaker in Abita Springs, LA.
Brooks played a significant role as master brewer at Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, LA which debuted in 1986. Brooks joined the brewery in 1987 where he worked for 10 years until it was sold in 1997. As master brewer, he created some of Abita Beer’s most beloved recipes including Purple Haze, Abita Amber, Andygator, Turbodog, and Abita Root Beer. Abita was just the 13th craft brewery to open in the United States, and the first in the South, marking the resurgence of microbreweries throughout the United States.
Known as a “brewery-in-a-box”, Brooks then went on to share his wealth of brewing knowledge with multiple startup companies throughout the south and around the world. While working for AmBrew Brewing International he built breweries in Ireland, Hong Kong, and Tecate, Mexico. He later served as master brewer for Fullsteam Brewing, Durham, NC; Big Boss Brewing Co of Durham, NC; Black Jack Brewing Co in Raleigh, NC; Flying Tiger Brewery of Monroe, LA; and finally Cane River Brewing Co of Natchitoches, LA.
Brooks was a food and beverage enthusiast. He was a participant of the Southern Foodways Alliance, where he joined other devotees of southern cuisine and people. Brooks wrote many entertaining musings on food, drink, and southern culture for Egullet.com, where he was also known as Mayhaw Man, or the man who loved cake (Caramel Cake, thanks) more than pie. As a freelance writer his work featured in both regional and national publications including Gravy, Southern Living, New York Times, Offbeat, Chile Pepper, and Salon Kitchen Cabinet.
Brooks was one of a kind. An intellectual, a historian including the most trivial of topics, a charming raconteur, and a passionate chef and brewer. A true Southern character whose veneration of all things cultural: music, reading and writing, cooking – those things that make an ordinary life rich. He could spin a tale of tales to anyone who would listen. And listen they did.
Brooks is survived by his children Miles Franklin Hamaker of Oslo, Norway and Charles Graham Hamaker (Graham) of Oxford, MS; his mother Brooks Ellen Hamaker; his brother Thomas Lawler Hamaker and his wife Gina, Fayetteville, AR, his brother Powell Williams Hamaker and his wife Lisa, Mandeville, LA and nieces Anna Hamaker and Erin Hamaker and nephews, Powell Hamaker, Reese Hamaker and Charles Lane Hamaker. He was preceded in death by his father Charles L Hamaker.