Nov 20, 201309:45 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

New Orleans’ New Craft Beer Scene

Bayou Teche Brewing's LA 31 Bière Pâle

It was not too long ago, maybe during your parents’ or grandparents’ day, that there were a lot of beers on the market, but they were all along the same lines.

New Orleans, in particular, had a large number of breweries, at one time more than 30. We are unfortunately not even a pale shadow of our former beer brewing self.

Many of us remember some of the names (by the way, this has made for many name-the-breweries trivia contests, with a six-pack of something exotic riding on the outcome,) and many of the names are lost in the mists of mergers and failures.

The proud marques of Jax, Dixie, Falstaff and Regal are in the memory bank. Sometimes we can even come up with George Merz, Southern, Crescent City, Pelican, Lafayette, Louisiana, New Orleans, Weckerling, Pioneer, American, Standard, City, Columbia and Old Union.

Most of these beers were in the lighter, lager style which had broad appeal for many years, and likely still does.

While our area is no longer a brewing powerhouse center, we are moving into a period with micro-breweries churning craft beers that appeal to certain “niche” tastes, and these smaller breweries are producing a number of different beers to reach the market with different types of beer rather than producing one broad-taste style of beer.

It’s fair to say that Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs is responsible for being not only the “Keeper of the Flame,” but also an innovator. This wonderful success story, with its signature Amber brew, now pretty much is available coast-to-coast. The attention-getting Purple Haze, made with the addition of raspberries, and TurboDog, brewed with chocolate malt and caramel, have been important additions to the company’s lineup of quality beers.

In 2008, a couple of local guys, Kirk Coco and Peter Caddoo teamed up to found New Orleans Lager and Ale Company, known all over town as NOLA Brewing. NOLA Blonde proved very popular, and there was also NOLA Brown, followed by Hopitoulas, a play on the name of the street on which the Brewery is located. NOLA Brewing’s 7th St Wheat is a seasonal beer that is now available year-round, and refers to the name of the wharf across from the brewery.

With the easy availability of refrigeration for transporting beer, and the cost of canning coming down thanks to new equipment, craft beers can now go regional and bring specialty brews to larger, near-by markets.

Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, founded in 2003, is located in Kiln, Miss., just north of Bay St. Louis, the body of water not necessarily the community. It became quite a tough feat to obtain permits and licensing since Mississippi’s laws had really never been updated since Prohibition was the law of the land. 

Lazy Magnolia built quite a reputation for quality and innovation with its Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale making use of one of Mississippi’s most noted agricultural products, roasted pecans, in the mash. They also make a well-structured, but not overly sweet beer using coriander and orange peel, Indian Summer Wheat Ale.

LA 31, named for a roadway that follows the curves of Bayou Teche in Cajun country, has made quite a splash into the New Orleans market. Bayou Teche Brewing is located in Arnaudville, and is not only available in bottles but also is quite a popular choice on draft.

The Bière Pâle Ale is the flagship of the line, and is a perfect accompaniment to the cuisine of the region, notably sauce piquant, jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp Creole, bisque, etoufee, and fried seafood. Boucanée is an homage to the native wild cherry trees and their fruit which ripened every June throughout South Louisiana (bet that caught you by surprise), and uses a cherry-wood smoked wheat as a base grain.

One of the latest breweries to join the fray, in 2010, is Tin Roof Brewing Co. based in Baton Rouge. Two childhood friends from Natchez, Miss., discovered at different times that they had a passion for beer. Charles Caldwell learned about his after venturing off to Colorado to find his fame and fortune. William McGehee was determined to earn a law degree from LSU. 

These guys have gone about this project in a big way. Tin Roof Blonde Ale, Perfect Tin Amber Ale and Voodoo Bengal anchor the line and they are seeing their distribution in cans increase by the week.

Importantly, all of these breweries also specialize in seasonal brews. These are available for short periods of time, and they may never see the light of day again depending on ingredients and public demand. So, if you see something that looks interesting, you should pick it up and give it a try.

Bottom line is that our region is very much down the chart in terms of product made and breweries active. We are getting our pants knocked off by Oregon, Colorado, California, New York, Minnesota, Texas and about 40 other states.

It is a great idea to support our local breweries in what they are trying to accomplish. Maybe every product is not a home run, but with so much diversity, and so many products made, local is an important way to go. The beer is fresher, more thought has gone into the recipe, and these folks are living in our communities.

Just for fun, pick up a mixed 12-count, or more, of various local brews. Taste through them with friends. Discuss them. Learn about what the brew master was hoping to accomplish and the thought that went into the beer.

Then you tell me if you did not find a favorite. My bet is you will, and it will become your new go-to brew. Prosit!   

 

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You can reach blogger Tim McNally by email at timideas@bellsouth.net.

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

about

In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.

 

Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.

 

Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.

 

Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.

 

They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.

 

Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.

 

Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

 

Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.

 

It’s a good gig. 

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