Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Great American Beer Boom: Jay's Beer Journey

My brother (Jay Ducote of Bite And Booze) spent a lot of time in 2012 going to different breweries and events and talking about several issues in the craft beer world, especially the role of the wholesaler, or distributor.  During this journey he got the chance to interview beer industry giants like Greg Koch of Stone Brewing and Andrew Godley of Parish Brewing with the help of Tommy Talley from TommysTV.  Yeah, Jay's a lucky bastard. I'm not TOO jealous though, because I'm headed to NYC tomorrow morning and guess what, it's the final weekend of New York City Beer Week!  Enough about me... here's Jay's video, check it out:

If you ask me, one of the most poignant comments was from Andrew, when he said that he wanted to focus on producing beer, and he didn't want to focus on delivering the beer. It really makes you think about what role the distributors do play in the industry. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Orleans Internation Beer Festival - March 9, 2013!

If you read my post about Chafunkta officially becoming a licensed brewery, then you might have caught a tidbit about their first event as a legal brewery being the upcoming New Orleans International Beer Festival!  It's going to be held in Champions Square, and rumor has it there will even be a Cornhole Tournament!  Good luck beating the Beer Buddha's team.  

Personally I can't speak for this event, as last year's inaugural event was on the same day as the Zapp's Beer Festival in Baton Rouge, but it appears that all the local guys will be involved.  The aforementioned Chafunkta, plus Parish, NOLA, Tin Roof, Bayou Teche, Covington and Abita all seem to be on list.  In addition, some regional breweries like Lazy Magnolia and Saint Arnold should definitely be on hand as well as some solid breweries like Stone, Green Flash, Goose Island, and Brooklyn.  

There also appears to be a NOLA Brewing Beer Garden devoted entirely to cask beers, and I can promise you that's the first place I'd go.  Breweries tend to do some more interesting one-off releases to feature on cask for festivals like this so it would be your best chance to try something really unique.  There will also be seminars on Cooking With Beer and Food Pairings... definitely worth checking out.  

If you're looking for something to do in a few weekends, this might be the spot for you!  

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Green Flash West Coast IPA

Alright, time for some Green Flash to be featured on Feature Beer Friday!  Green Flash is a relative newcomer to the Baton Rouge (and Louisiana) beer market and the West Coast IPA is one of their flagship brands.  This of course also means that it's one of their first available here, and you should be able to find it anywhere in town with a good craft beer selection. Several other Green Flash beers can be found around town, including two of the other standards, their Hop Head Red and Double Stout.  Others like the Rayon Vert Belgian IPA, Trippel, and Imperial IPA show up from time to time and we even saw some of their fantastic Palate Wrecker hopbomb of an Imperial IPA. 

Feature Beer Friday! hasn't been the kindest to IPAs in the past, as regular contributor Jeremy Spikes hates hops almost as much as I hate pickles, but we still decided to give this West Coast IPA a try.  Maybe in the future we'll get some other Green Flash beers on the tasting table!  

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), James Lawson (, and Jeremy Spikes (

Serving: 12 oz. brown bottle.

Appearance: Hazy, bubbly with a nice head was my note, while Jay said it was "ideal for the style."

Aroma: Hoppy, and obviously hop forward but there was a little malt in there.  "Pine forest" was the dominant hop flavor in this one.

Taste: I thought it was a little too out of balance on the bitter side, and we also picked up some tangerine flavors to go with the pine.

Mouthfeel: Bitter as expected, lingering bitterness on the tongue.

Overall: A solid West Coast IPA, even Jeremy though it was a "good IPA - if there is such a thing."  Ha!  There most definitely is such a thing, Jeremy.  Jay liked this one the best, giving it the high score of the group, while James wasn't as impressed, remarking that it didn't set itself apart from other IPAs.

Overall Rating: 70.25
My Rating: 76

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chafunkta Brewing is Officially Legal!

Good news for Louisiana Beer, Chafunkta Brewing over in Mandeville is officially licensed and legal!  Chafunkta (formerly known as Pelican Brewing before changing their name to avoid any potential confusion with the Pelican Brewpub in Oregon) has been working toward this day for over a year and a half, including around 11 months worth of licensing process, so I know it's a huge success for founders Josh & Jamie Erickson.  

They have been serving their beer at festivals all over the state, like Zapp's in Baton Rouge and WYES in New Orleans but only at the not-for-profit festivals that allow breweries in planning and homebrewers to show off their work.  This important piece of paper will finally allow Chafunkta to start brewing beer commercially so before too long we should start seeing it on tap in bars, most likely confined to the Mandeville area first, but as they grow, who knows?

As those of you who have made it to the aforementioned festivals know, Cahfunkta is leading with their two flagship brews, the Voo Ka Ray Imperial IPA, and the Old 504 Robust Porter.  The Voo Ka Ray is expected to come in around 7.5% and be a very well balanced IIPA with a lot of late-hopping rather than full boil bittering hops.  The Old 504 is a coffee and vanilla inspired porter that should be around 6%.  I've tried both over the years and they will be fantastic additions to the local lineup.  And I have no doubt that Josh and Jamie have a full list of brews in the works as well.    

Their first official event as a commercial brewery will be the New Orleans International Beer Festival on March 9th, and Josh told me that they expect the initial commercial bar roll out to be during the first week of April.  When I know the exact dates and locations I'll pass them on, but you can bet I'll be there if I can.

That's all for now, huge congrats to Josh and Jamie and everyone else at Chafunkta Brewing, I'm looking forward to drinking some soon! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Abita Strawberry 2013 is Coming Soon!

I'm sure most of my readers also are fans of Abita on Facebook or follow them on twitter, but for those who aren't, they announced today that the wait is over for Abita Strawberry.  I didn't see an exact release date for the seasonal brew, but my guess is that it'll be in stores this week.  In 2011 it released in late January, but I think it was closer to March in 2012.   

Previously, the hype for this beer was so overwhelming that it got to be hard to find, but in recent years the supply seems to have caught up to (or exceeded) the demand, so no one should go thirsty for their strawberry fix. I think I saw it in stores for at least 6 months in 2012 and I have no reason to expect different this year. 

You probably know that I'm not the biggest Abita fan in the world, but this is one of their better beers, in my opinion.  It's just a simple strawberry lager, but that's also exactly what you get.   A light-bodied, low alcohol strawberry beer that pairs well with hot weather and spicy crawfish.  Once I get my hands on a 6-pack I'll let everyone know how the 2013 version stacks up, but for now, be on the lookout.  

In related news, The Beer Buddha seems to be on to a rumor that Abita will be replacing their regular wheat beer with a lemon wheat beer... interesting. I also haven't had a chance to try their new Spring IPA, but first reviews from a few friends are underwhelming as expected. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Strongbow

Wait, Strongbow is a cider, right?  Yes.  Yes it is, and it's one of Jeremy's favorite ciders and probably one of Jeremy's favorite adult beverages so when he brought one out and recommended that we try it on the air with Raise A Glass and use it for Feature Beer Cider Friday, I was fine with the idea.  I enjoy a good cider and brew my own fairly often, so I think it's worth enough of a spot

Strongbow is a mild strength (5.0% abv) cider produced by the Bulmers company our of England.  It's available locally at a few places and typically can be found in 4-packs of half-liter cans.   Strongbow themselves describe it as a well-balanced cider that comes from a blend of bittersweet cider and culinary apples.  Interesting... let's see what we think.

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), James Lawson, and Jeremy Spikes (

Serving: 16.9 oz. can.

Appearance: Yellow, minimal head... looks sort of like a light beer but that's typical for a cider.

Aroma: Apple juice, not too boozy and not too sweet.  Jay noted hints of caramel

Taste: Very dry, probably moreso than they would want you to think based on claims of being well-balanced, but also very easy to drink and refreshing.  Of course they also claim to be "England's Dry Cider" so I guess they are correct there.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, easy finish, fairly dry still.

Overall: A very standard cider, I thought it was an easy drinker and especially suited for hot Louisiana summers. Jeremy thought that "it's got a good beat and you can dance to it."  So... if you ever want to see Jeremy bust a move, get him some Strongbow!  (Side note, if you ever want to see my cousin Philip bust a move, play some "Ignition Remix" by R. Kelly.)

Overall Rating: 71
My Rating: 71

Friday, February 8, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale

Alright, I know, another Feature Beer that isn't locally available.  That's one of the problems with Louisiana, but it does make traveling a little more exciting to pick up beers that aren't locally available, right? Sweetwater hails from Atlanta... now I HATE Atlanta, but it's because of their sports teams, not their beer.  Atlanta, from all I've heard and read, has one of the best craft beer scenes in the South, so they have that going for them.  Which is nice.

Sweetwater Brewing has been in Atlanta since 1997, which is fairly old in the craft brewing world.  The 420 Extra Pale Ale (named for the interstate that goes around Atlanta, right?) has been one of their regulars since 1997, and they list it as their most popular beer.  I know it's pretty easy to find wherever Sweetwater is distributed, even at places like the Atlanta airport. Needless to say based on the name, it's an American Pale Ale, brewed more in the west coast style, as the founders of Sweetwater were both Colorado/West Coast trained in the brewing arts.

Now, on to the review!      

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), James Lawson (, and Blake Winchell (Brasseurs A La Maison).

Serving: 12 oz. bottle.

Appearance: Light in color, white head that fades quickly.

Aroma: Hoppy, but nothing amazing, Jay thought it had a slight cantaloupe quality to it. 

Taste: Hoppy as well, Jay said it was totally drinkable and could go for more without being offended or having some taste overload.

Mouthfeel: Just alright... like Jay said before, it's a very easy drinking pale ale.

Overall: I thought that this one was a decent flagship brew, and Blake really thought it was better when he's had it before on draft.  Of the four of us, James was the least impressed, saying, "a road sign that says "IPA 20 Miles That Way," only a point in the right direction."  I can see where he's coming from, but I think that's what makes this one a lot more of a session beer than a bigger IPA would be. 

Overall Rating: 60
My Rating: 62

Thursday, February 7, 2013

NOLA Mechahopzilla Cans, Check It Out!

Alright, it's old news by now on NOLA's Facebook page or on The Beer Buddha, but here's a preview of what the upcoming NOLA Mechahopzilla cans are going to look like!  

Pretty bad ass if you ask me... and just another sign that the guys over at NOLA Brewing are headed the right direction.  Irish Channel Stout year-round?  Check.  Irish Channel Stout coming in cans as well?  Check.  Mechahopzilla coming in cans?  Check!  I havent' seen a can design for the Irish Channel Stout, but NOLA puts out some of the best beer graphics around, so I'm confident they will be just as cool as this guy.

Keep up the good work guys, and I'll be looking to stock my fridge pretty soon.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

And it's time for a Feature Beer Friday!... on Monday. You see, what had happened was, Friday rolled around and Mandi and I made a last minute decision to head down to New Orleans to check out the Super Bowl festivities.  And it turns out, that trumps the BR Beer Scene almost every time.  And usually I have a post or two lined up, but sometimes I let it slide and write these weekly posts the day of.  This was one of those times.  So, my bad, but here's a bonus Feature Beer!  

And to make up for the delay, I'm going to give you our first Feature Beer Friday! to feature Dogfish Head Brewing, specifically their Indian Brown Ale.  This is one of their flagship brews, available year round where DFH is distributed, which doesn't include Louisiana (yet) but does include Texas, Georgia, and Florida.  Indian Brown Ale has been a regular in Dogfish Head's lineup since 1999, and it's labeled a brown ale, but it's really on the strong and hoppy side for the style.  This one weighs in at 7.2% abv, and a healthy 50 IBU, so it's not playing around.  Enough talk though, on to the beer itself...

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (Bite And Booze), James Lawson (, and Blake Winchell (Brasseurs A La Maison).

Serving: 12 oz. bottle.

Appearance: Light brown with an off-white head

Aroma: I wrote down, "malty, slightly roasted and a little hops."  Jay picked up some fruit and molasses. 

Taste: I thought this one had a great blend of sweet and bitter roast, but not as much hops as expected.  James just said, "solid... why beer is more than Bud Light."  

Mouthfeel: Chewy, Blake and I both noticed the thick body of this one.

Overall: A classic American craft beer, brewed by one of the biggest American craft breweries.  Blake really thought of it more like a hoppy porter, but not hoppy enough to push it into Cascadian Dark Ale territory.  I agree, this one is sort of a defiant of style, pushing the envelope of a brown ale, but not really fitting in better elsewhere either.  And that's perfectly okay by us. 

Overall Rating: 79.25
My Rating: 83