Last week (May 13-19), the New Orleans craft beer community celebrated American Craft Beer Week. Bars, restaurants, breweries, and distributors created dozens of events around the city and on the Northshore (and Baton Rouge and beyond) attended by hundreds of local beer enthusiasts. One blogger can only attend so many events, but here are the highlights of what I did attend:
● Cask conditioned ale abounded all week long, starting with Bayou Teche’s Saison d'Ecrevisses dry-hopped with New Zealand Motueka and Alsatian Aramis hops served appropriately alongside a crawfish boil on Sunday evening at the Avenue Pub. Bayou Teche also provided a sneak peek at a beer they aren’t releasing for several months. Their Miel Sauvage, a honey strong ale (also called a braggot, a very old style), was served in a cask on Wednesday night at d.b.a on Frenchmen St. Other standouts were Parish Brewing’s new Envie Pale Ale cask ale on Friday at the Avenue Pub (double dry-hopped with Amarillo and New Zealand Pacifica), Covington Brewhouse’s Pale Ale at the Avenue Pub during Saturday’s Grand Tasting, Lazy Magnolia’s Timber Beast served during the Avenue Pub’s HopHead IPA event on Thursday and Bayou Teche’s cask of Biere Noir at Evangeline in the French Quarter, also on Thursday.
● After brewing the standard wort for one of their regular beers, local breweries added new yeasts to see how it would affect the flavor of the beer. Yeast is perhaps the most important flavor aspect of any beer, so these experiments yielded very interesting results. Tin Roof Brewing, NOLA Brewing, and Covington Brewhouse all rolled out yeast experiments during the week, and a future column will be dedicated to discussing this trend in more depth.
● One of the most thought-provoking and well thought out events of the entire week was the “Beer and Its Bourbon” event at the Avenue Pub which matched the whiskey, bourbon, or rum to the beer that had been aged in its barrel. For example, Kentucky brewery Against the Grain’s Bo & Luke Stout was aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels, so customers had the opportunity to sample the beer along side a half ounce pour of the Pappy. My favorite pairing of the night was the Brooklyn Cuvee Elijah Imperial Stout, aged in Elijah Craig barrels and refermented with Champagne yeast served with the Elijah Craig. Both aspects were delicious and paired very well.
● It was great to see new beer places get in the spirit of the week as well. Evangeline in the French Quarter is dedicated to serving only local craft beer every week of the year and held a wonderful event on Thursday night showcasing unique versions of Tin Roof and Bayou Teche beers. And even though the Aline Street Beer Garden focuses on German beers, they paired up with Saint Arnold Brewing to showcase the quality German style beers being brewed regionally. The owner is also interested in teaming up with Covington Brewhouse to serve their German style beers. Although not a new beer bar, both Bulldog locations had at least two events every night, many of them featuring local craft beer.
Kudos to the bars that hosted ACBW events and the breweries for providing one-of-a-kind beers. Most importantly, a hearty thank you and raised glass to all the folks out there who attended these events and drank these beers all week long in New Orleans, Metairie, the Northshore, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and everywhere else. If you don’t drink it, they won’t brew it, so make every week American (and international) Craft Beer Week!
— Nora McGunnigle is a freelance writer, blogger, craft beer aficionado, event planner and correspondent for Gambit and Southern Brew News. You can follow her blog at www.nolabeerblog.com and read her column every Tuesday on Blog of New Orleans. Please let her know what you think or suggest topics for future columns in the comment section.