Jim Patton, one of the founders of Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, Louisiana, passed away in Miami, Florida on October 23, 2012 at the age of 59. Sources say that Patton died suddenly of unknown causes.
Abita Brewing is popular among craft beer fans and it has grown to become one of the largest craft breweries in the nation. Known to many for its Abita Purple Haze, Abita Brewing produced just 1,500 barrels of beer in its initial year of existence, which dates back to 1986. Today, thanks in large part to Jim Patton’s early leadership, the company produces more than 125,000 barrels of beer and ranks among the largest craft breweries nationwide.
Patton sold his stake in Abita Brewing back in 1997, but he never gave up his quest for building and guiding craft breweries. Following his stint with Abita, he co- founded Zea Rotisserie and Brewery and worked as the brewmaster at Key West Brewery in Florida. Most recently, he was involved with the setup of a brand new brewing operation- Wynwood Brewing- in Miami, Florida.
Patton background was a little different from the typical brewer. Most brewers have backgrounds in engineering, chemistry, business, etc., but Patton’s educational history was unique. He held a doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from Washington University and he instructed students at several different universities before entering the business of beer.
Patton is survived by his wife Kathleen; a daughter and son; his mother; and two sisters. His influence on the craft beer scene in Louisiana and elsewhere is significant and he has left behind a great and lasting legacy for future brewers and craft beer industry followers.