I couldn't leave the Dirty South in this challenge without hitting up two more of the area's beloved breweries!
BEER & BREWERY #81
Abita SOS (Save Our Shore), A Charitable Pilsner, 7% ABV: So I am thinking when I pick up this bottle, "Great! It's hot out, this will be a refreshing pilsner, AND I'll be helping a good cause!" (75 cents from the sale this beer go to help clean up the horrific Gulf oil spill). I'm generally an ABV hound, but I don't even look at the bottle, figuring, "Oh, it's probably around 5%."
So, on a warm San Diego afternoon, with the grill heating up, and ahi tuna waiting in the wings, I crack this baby open. I was surprised when it poured out hazy. So, it is unfiltered....Notes of grass, lemon, herb, and a touch of spice. Still light and refreshing, but with some malt sweetness and wheatiness. The absence of filtering made it a bit more creamy on the palate, instead of the bright crispness normally associated with a pilsner. And it's 7%?? Whoa, Nelly. I better slow down.
Abita is undoubtedly the reigning king of beer in Louisiana. I mean it is EVERYWHERE. There isn't a bar, store, or restaurant in New Orleans (that I know of) that doesn't have Abita on draft or in bottle for their customers. Locals love it and tourists clamor after it. Most popular is their Abita Amber, which I've had more than I can ever count at local festivals, concerts, and weddings. Other favorite offerings include Turbo Dog (my first Abita experience in college), Purple Haze (a fav with the non-beer loving girls), and Restoration Ale (produced after Katrina to honor the rebuilding effort).
Began in 1986, Abita has rocketed from producing 1,500 barrels in their first year to now over 90,000! Located 30 miles north of New Orleans in Abita Springs, the brewery is dedicated to being green and giving back to their community. Abita uses the local artesian water, brews with an energy-efficient system, and runs their own wastewater facility, producing bio-gas to fuel their production. And as you can see, they are giving back too. In addition to their current charitable cause, the SOS, Abita donated $550,000 to the Post-Katrina recovery effort through the Restoration Ale!
Now, on to my favorite new brewery in New Orleans, the aptly named....
BEER & BREWERY #80
NOLA Brewing Hopitoulas, 6.5% ABV: I love this beer on tap! And tasted from the brite tank? SO fresh and hoppy. So I knew I had to go visit my New Orleans comrades at GABF, and have this beer. (Those guys are just awesome.) Vibrant aromas of citrus (lemon, grapefruit), floral hops, and pine. Bright and refreshing, perfect for a hot New Orleans day, and a wonderful pair with a variety of Creole and Cajun dishes. This is an IPA that is an incredibly refreshing change to the local beer scene, and one I hope to see expand beyond that market someday! They may be the new kids on the block compared to Abita, but these guys are seriously cleaning house and taking names.
Founded by Kirk Coco and Peter Caddoo, NOLA brewery has quickly become a household name in almost every bar in New Orleans. Their growth has been exponential, with the NOLA Blonde and NOLA Brown their most popular.
CLICK HERE to learn more and see my visit to the NOLA brewery earlier this year, entitled "Viva NOLA!" and my delicious Taste Test!!
Until next time,
Visit New Orleans, Visit New Orleans, Visit New Orleans. It will be one of the best gastronomic pleasures of your life. And as always, drink Craft Beer!