Whew, what a five days that was! As the title says, I’m just back from living it up in the Big Easy, sipping and savoring at Tales of the Cocktail, the numero uno cocktail event in the United States, the Americas and quite possibly the world. I had on my beverage and cocktail guy hat, of course, but there were still a few fine occasions for beer, like these:
- I got a taste of the Abita Satsuma Harvest Wit my first day in town and found it interesting but not overly exciting. Part of the problem was that, like almost every beer served in New Orleans, it arrived far too cold for its own damn good, thus muting its evident spiciness.
- My wife and I enjoyed a lunch at the Crescent City Brewhouse, a French Quarter brewpub that’s been there long enough to now be considered an institution, I’d say. (Actually, I enjoyed mine, but she left half her chicken wings behind.) As usual, I found their Pilsner to be pretty tasty, although thought it had lost some crispness from when I last had it a couple of years ago.
- On the other end of the Abita scale, I once again thoroughly liked the Restoration Ale, this time at Coops on Decateur. It’s not hop bomb by any means, but there’s still a lot to be said for a beautifully balanced and gently hopped pale ale, especially one as fragrant and inviting as the Restoration.
- Guesting on a local radio show called Kiss My Gumbo, I offered the hosts tastes of Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head – in retrospect, perhaps a bit too big a beer for 9:45 a.m. – and fixed each a Green Devil beer cocktail, too.
- The last event of Tales was Sunday’s Beer Market, where I sampled the Blond and Brown of NOLA Brewing. Although I had just come from a sensory experience seminar featuring the irrepressible Francesco Lafranconi and the brilliant olfactory expert Dr. Rachel Herz – more about that another day – and was nursing a palate freshly washed with quality tequila, I was still able to taste enough of the (served too cold) Brown to recognize that this fledging brewery could well have a hit on its hands. Styled after a British mild, with just under 4% of alcohol to it, it boasted great flavour and just enough roasted malt character to make it all interesting.
- And finally, while I didn’t visit much in the way of beer destinations, I was able to drop by d.b.a. for a couple of pints and found it well-settled into its location and style. The beer list would be embarrassed to be seen in the same room as those of its sister bars in the East Village of New York and Brooklyn, but for the Big Easy it’s pretty good and the Bear Republic Racer 5 on tap was pretty tasty. (I know, I should have been drinking local, but after the long, hot walk to Frenchman Street, nothing on the list looked like it would go down quite the was a good IPA would.)