I focused mostly on special offerings from local breweries, breweries-in-waiting, and homebrewers. Even with that self-imposed limitation, there were many new beers to try. Established local commercial breweries like NOLA Brewing, Covington Brewhouse, Tin Roof, Chafunkta and Parish Brewing all contributed something new and different. I particularly loved the single hop IPA variations that Andrew Godley of Parish Brewing had on hand (Pacifica, Calypso, and Chinook) as well as all three items that the Covington Brewhouse brought - Anonymous IPA, Cosmosis Black IPA and their Bayou Bock on cask.
I was able to sample, for the first time, the wares of several breweries that are in the process of getting up and running. I loved Great Raft’s Ermahgerd Hops double IPA and their Reasonably Corrupt Schwarzbier (black lager). The Old Rail brewpub will be opening in Mandeville July 17 and brought two excellent beers to share, their Cowcatcher Chocolate Milk Stout and one of the best ESBs I’ve had since moving to Louisiana, their Echo Sierra Bravo. Can’t wait until I can hang out at the bar and enjoy several imperial pints of it next month. Also loved Gnarly Barley’s coconutty Porter Rican and balanced Hoppopotomus IPA.
More beer geekery under the cut!
Tin Roof brought its Rougarou Black IPA, Chafunkta brought its Fontaine Blueberry Wheat IPA, Abita brought Strawator Dopplebock and NOLA brought a firkin of their Hopitoulas base which was hopped differently with added grapefruit peel. I got to try 40 Arpent’s Berliner Weisse, Tu Lu Lu’s (operating out of Cut Off, LA) Kölsch, and Mudbug’s Cajun Stout. Mississippi’s Crooked Letter Brewing provided a great mocha porter called Mystery Romp.
There were also several homebrewers from New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the Northshore serving about a dozen or so different beers in total. But it was on Saturday that the homebrewers really came out in force. Saturday was the main event, also held in Mardi Gras World, but in a different, more spacious and open section of the complex. The breweries were all set up on the ground floor (from Miller-Coors to North Coast to Lazy Magnolia to Cajun Fire) and the second floor was filled to capacity with more than 100 homebrews from a dozen different homebrew clubs and aspiring out-of-state small capacity breweries.
Some highlights of the homebrew tables included Andrew Pollack’s Uber IPA, Greg Hackenberg’s Cucumber Slumber, and Richard Ebert’s Moon Over Bourbon Street (a bourbon barrel aged special bitter) from Crescent City Homebrewers Toby Guidry’s Pour Mon Pere, Ashlyn Harmon and David Komendanchik’s Grapefruit Rye IPA and Nathan Heilman’s Motuekamber from Baton Rouge’s Brasseurs a la Maison; Ardennes Ale and Pale Ale on Chinook by Bicycle Brew Club, also out of Baton Rouge; George’s Beer and Homebrewery’s George’s Red Ball; Redstick Brewmasters’ () Fade to Black IPA; and Brewstock Homebrew Supply’s Belgian Dark Strong Ale. That barely scratches the surface of all of the homebrew offerings— there was a lot to take in. The Mystic Krewe of Brew from the Northshore had the best swag - temporary tattoos!
All in all, I think both venues at Mardi Gras World served both events well. The food provided by Sun Ray Grill at the Private Beer Tasting on Friday was delicious and plentiful, and the food trucks parked outside of the International Beer Festival on Saturday were a great addition. WYES' annual event is a wonderful opportunity for both beer drinkers and aspiring brewers to connect and spread the word about the local craft scene.
— Nora McGunnigle is a freelance writer, blogger, craft beer aficionado, event planner, and regular columnist 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.