Friday, June 10, 2011

Celebrate Father's Day With Zea Rotisserie & Brewery

Apparently Zea restaurants are stepping up their Father's Day game this year, with FREE BEER!  Yeah, that's right, apparently for every father that comes in, they receive a free 4-pack of the Zea custom beer with two entrees ordered.  Zea offers four unique beers in their restaurants, and I recently received one of these 4-packs to give them a try.  This offer is good at all the New Orleans area locations, as well as Covington, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette.  Sounds like a pretty cool promotion to me, but now let's look into the beers themselves...

I had previously had an opportunity to sample the Zea lineup at the Top Of The Hops festival in Lafayette, so unfortunately these aren't new ones for me, but this is a good chance to give them a proper reviewing.  It's hard to accurately review beers at a large festival... it was tough enough to keep track of all the beers I tried, let alone critique them.  I suppose if I wanted to take each sample, sit down and examine the characteristics, take in the aroma and savor the taste I could... but that would require WAY too much effort.  The point of a beer festival is to have a good time with friends and enjoy a lot of new and interesting beers, not make it a study session.  So, thanks again to Emily with Gambel Communications and Zea Restaurants for a chance to give these beers the proper write-up!

I decided to try these from lighter to darker, and up first was the Clearview Gold Lager, a light kölsch-style lager that's a definite step up from the domestic adjunct lagers we typically see.  It had a bit of a pear flavor, and the heavy carbonation almost gave it a cider feel.  I think this one would be a big hit among beer drinkers looking to get into craft beer but afraid of the dark side.

The second beer I tried was the Zea Amber Lager, a Vienna-style lager with a strong caramel malt base and a lot of biscuit flavor. There still wasn't a lot of hop profile, but the malts packed quite a flavor punch and gave this beer a good solid amber lager flavor.  All in all another good beer, and a slight step up from the Clearview Gold in my opinion.

As a side note... all of these beers are brewed by Heiner Brau over in Covington, but according to the Zea original recipes.  Unfortunately a true "brew-pub" where one entity brews their own beer for sale at the pub is illegal in Louisiana.  We need to work on that.

Beer #3 was the one I was the most excited for, the Category 5 Pale Ale.  American Pale Ales are one of my favorite styles currently, so I was interested to see how one of the locals would stack up.  There are a few other local pale ales, the Abita Restoration Ale, the Bayou Teche LA 31, and the Tin Roof Voodoo Bengal being three examples, but there's nothing wrong with another local example of a classic style.  The aroma is strong with caramel malts but not too hoppy. It really could use a little more hops to achieve the desired balance.  The flavor has a better hop profile and much more balance. The caramel malt is still strong but there's enough hop flavor to call this a solid pale ale. 

Last but not least, the Ponchartrain Porter, not to be confused with Covington's Ponchartrain Pilsner.  It's a dark brown color with a finger or so of off-white head.  It had a great porter aroma, coffee and chocolate and roasted malt notes. Spot on with the nose.  The taste was a little muted like a lot of porters, but still quite nice. The roasted malt notes came out the strongest, lending a thick bitterness to the end of the sip. It was surprisingly my favorite of the four Zea beers.  Very well done.

All in all, some good beers.  They aren't going to blow the real nerds away but if your Dad is tired of drinking the same old crap, bring him to Zea and he just might enjoy a few of these local brews.

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