Hey NOLA! Most of you probably don’t know who I am yet, but don’t worry… I’m gonna fix that up real soon. What you should know about me… I love a good adult beverage. (I’m a New Orleanian, so no real surprises there.) But I am also a retired bartender, descendant of wine-makers, avid homebrewer, and inveterate smartass… so I have a pretty good idea what I’m talking about, or at least I’ve convinced myself I do. In addition, I have been writing about this “drinking” thing for 5+ years now… mostly for Examiner, and almost exclusively in the Baltimore, Maryland area. However, I recently packed up and trekked back home, so I’m ever-so-slowly pouring my way back into the culture here. And I will be covering (and dis-covering) the craft beer scene now, so bear with me as I find my way. (Or should I say – “beer” with me?)
(I probably shouldn’t… my apologies.)
So every once in a while, I’m going to just sit back and reflect on the best beers I’ve tried in the last week or so. If possible, I will share where I had them, where you can get them, and why the hell you should care. This is one of those times…
Seeing that I’ve only been back in New Orleans less than a month, I was a little worried about finding out where the good beer is in this town. However, I knew one oasis of suds less than a mile from my house, so I figured I’d make a few trips and see what I could imbibe. Of course, I’m talking about this gem… nay, this crown jewel… of a beer bar in town: The Avenue Pub.
If you’re a beer geek, or a drinker at all, you probably already know about this joint… and if you haven’t been, you need to go. Now. But I won’t push it too much, for the moment… I just want to reminisce about some of the exceptional brews I downed there this week. Check out this lineup:
- Russian River / Sierra Nevada collaboration – Brux
A super dry, almost champagne-like beer. Slightly sour. Very tasty. As it says on the bottle, it is truly a “Domesticated Wild Ale”. You should be able to find it at Stein’s Market and Deli as well. Make sure to put one aside to age in a cool, dark place for the next year or so. Could be worth it…
- Terrapin / Nøgne Ø collaboration – Imperial Rye Porter
Roasty and delicious. Hint of vanilla and coffee. Not too heavy. This is simply an exceptional example of how a porter should look and feel and taste from two outstanding brewers. Most darker beers, I reserve for the chillier months, yet I imagine this fellow will be gracing my shelves all year round – as long as it’s available.
- Brooklyn – Sorachi Ace
This little devil has been a favorite of mine for a while. The Sorachi Ace (a Japanese hop varietal) offers the perfect lemony burst to the classic saison exhibited here. An intriguing, yet easily consumed, Belgian-style brew that’s perfect to quench the summer thirst, I’m already looking forward to the next one!
- Saint Arnold – Endeavour
A new one for me – this Texas brewery doesn’t reach the distant lands of Baltimore – but a nice surprise! The bartender suggested it, so I found myself enjoying a nice, citrusy, hoppy, but well-balanced, Double IPA. I will certainly be picking some up for the beer fridge at home soon…
- NOLA – Hurricane Saison
I’ve always been a proponent of drinking local beer, and Louisiana is making some good stuff these days. Plus I’ve probably consumed more of this since I moved home than any other brew. I was even fortunate enough to taste a delicious cask-conditioned version (last Friday at The Avenue Pub) with coriander, white sage, chamomile, and honey added! Quite interesting and tasty, reminiscent of some of the more herbal brews from Stillwater Artisanal Ales – which is totally a compliment.
Of course, I may have sampled a few others here and there, but I don’t want to overwhelm. Besides, these are the best of the best, and I would not suggest drinking as much as I do… My liver is here to serve, so you may enjoy New Orleans’ finest brews in a safe, puke-free environment. However, if you ever want to buy me a beer, you are welcome to join!
Until then… drink well!