Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Looking Back At WYES - Saturday International Beer Tasting

Man, what a weekend!  The Friday night Private Beer Sampling was phenomenal, but Saturday brought the extravaganza that was the WYES International Beer Tasting.  Just like Friday, the Saturday night event was moved in 2013 to Mardi Gras World along the river right after the convention center.  The location is awesome, Mandi and I were able to walk back to our hotel after the Friday night fun, sleep in, and then walk to lunch and a few beers at Barcadia before heading to Mardi Gras World early to help set up for the Brasseurs A La Maison homebrew club.  

Unlike Friday night, we had one of our beers on tap, so we were there as more than just beer drinkers.  Before too long we had the Tap-A-Canoe ready to go, but it was already past 4, so rather than head somewhere to drink we decided to start trying all of our club brews!  Usually at festivals like Zapp's or WYES I only get to try a small sample of our club's offerings.  This time I was determined to try them all, and it was a paltry 26 taps compared to the 40 we had at Zapp's.  

Of course beer tastings meant restroom breaks, and unfortunately the only set of restrooms was located at the entire opposite end from us... so that of course meant it was easy to grab a commercial beer on the way back.  Before I was even halfway through the canoe 6:00 had rolled around and the crowds started pouring in. 

Yeah, that's a lot of people!  And that was at the very beginning before the crowd got even bigger.  We were in the far corner above the HOMEBREWS sign, but I had to take the time to get this angle.  Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to do much tasting of other homebrew clubs, or commercial beers.  It's just too big of a festival and by the end of the night I had barely made it through our club's tap list.  

All in all though, a great time.  I don't regret missing out on the commercial brews but I do regret not trying more from the other homebrew clubs.  I guess there's always next year!  If I could make one recommendation, it's to be sure to go on Friday night for the commercial special releases and then on Saturday night for the homebrew selection. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Looking Back At WYES - Friday Private Beer Sampling

Alright, I've had a few days to recover from a weekend of drinking in New Orleans at the two-day WYES Beer Tastings.  In case you didn't make it... here's what you missed at the Friday night Private Beer Tasting!

First off, the location this year for both events was at Mardi Gras World, in adjoining spaces.  This is phenomenal for people like me from out of town because I can get a hotel (went with the Hilton Convention Center location) and easily walk to both nights, plus be in range of everywhere else we want to go.  Last year the Friday night event was at the fairgrounds and the Saturday night event was at the UNO arena.  This location plus having the events at the same location is far superior.

That said, how about the venue itself?  For Friday night we were in a faux-plantation room complete with trees and illuminated night sky.  The beer tables were spread all along the perimeter and honestly the only complaint I could have about the space is that it was really dark.  Too dark to take good pictures of the scene as a whole, but I took some of the highlights!

A few weeks back I wrote about all the beer I wanted to try at the Friday night event and honestly, I didn't even get to them all.  There was just too much good stuff. 

My regrets were not getting to Abita at all... you all know I'm not the biggest Abita fan in the world, but they had the Strawator and a specialty cask on hand and I missed them both.  I also missed out on a couple of new offerings from Sam Adams.  I also missed most of what Cajun Fire had to offer... by the time I made their table it was just the Root Beer Ale left.  Damn. 

The Highlights!
Parish Single-Hop IPA series: Andrew had Pacifica, Calypso, and Chinook single-hop IPAs, and all were delicious while also education regarding the hop profiles.
Great Raft Ermahgerd Hops: Awesome double IPA from this Shreveport brewery in planning.
Gnarly Barley Porter Rican: Delicious as expected.
Mudbug Cajun Stout: Really a well done beer.
Tin Roof Rougarou Black Ale: I hope we see this more often from the local guys.
Covington Anonymous IPA: I hope we see this more often from the North Shore! 
The Homebrews: Brasseurs A La Maison, Brewstock, Mystic Krewe of Brew, and George's Beers all had some great stuff.  I didn't try every one, but I cam close.

The Misses.

Chafunkta Brewing FontaineBlue Berry Wheat IPA: I love these guys, but this just didn't do it for me.
Mudbug King Cake Lager: The beer itself was tasty, but I spent the next several still tasting the cinnamon sugar from the glass.  I think it would be a great addition to a regular pint but didn't work well in a festival setting.
Old Rail Cow Catcher Milk Chocolate Stout: I wasn't too impressed with this one... fortunately their Seven Sisters IPA was quite nice.
Main Grain / Bombastic Brewers Crawfish Beer: I don't think I'm alone in this one.  Yikes. I applaud the creativity, but sometimes it's a swing and a miss.  Fortunately Ron's other beer was a Rum Barrel Russian Imperial Cream Stout, and it was a home run.

Alright, as hard as it is to pick a winner, I came away more impressed with Crooked Letter Brewing out of Mississippi than anyone else.  Maybe it's because they were new to me, or maybe it's because they brought a couple of awesome beers.  Their Mystery Romp Coffee Chocolate Porter was phenomenal and probably my favorite beer of the night.  Their other offering, the Mariposa Pale Ale brewed with mango, jalapeno, and cilantro was also delicious.  Mystery Romp is the only one I went back to for seconds, so congrats to Crooked Letter for impressing me the most of anyone Friday night!

And now for some pictures...

Brasseurs A La Maison

Crooked Letter Brewing... in case you can't read the shirt!

Great Raft Brewing

George's Homebrewing
Brewstock Homebrews

Friday, June 21, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Tin Roof Perfect Tin Amber Ale

Alright, time to get local again, and it doesn't get any more local than a beer from Baton Rouge's Tin Roof Brewing.  Well, I guess my homebrew is a little more local, but I'm not going to be featuring myself on Feature Beer Friday!, I'm not quite that vain.
The Perfect Tin Amber Ale is one of Tin Roof's flagship and original beers, along with the Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale that I featured not too long ago.  Straight from their website:  "American-style amber ale brewed with a variety of the finest specialty malts available. These malts combine to form a distinct flavor profile with hints of toffee and chocolate. Its mild bitterness never lingers longer than you ask it to. The final product is a malty, medium-bodied, and easy drinking session beer.  You’ll love this malt masterpiece! Pairs well with most grilled or roasted meats.  Also great for chilis, stews, and brining."  Mmmm, now I want to cook some chili.

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

Serving: 12 oz. can.

Appearance: Caramel color, clear with a decent head.

Aroma: Caramel flavor as well, malty and pretty standard for the style.  Jay said he could pick up the toffee but not the chocolate as much.  Maybe a little on the hoppy side for the style as well.

Taste: Still a little on the hoppy side, but very pleasant

Mouthfeel: Jeremy thought this would make a great session beer.  I agree, it's very easy to drink.

Overall: A solid easy-drinking local amber ale.

Overall Rating: 71.5
My Rating: 72

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Countdown to WYES!

First of all, congratulations to Kym Walsh of Baton Rouge for winning the ticket giveaway last week!  Kym won a pair of tickets to the WYES International Beer Tasting being held this Saturday, June 22nd. 

You can't go Saturday night?  Well have no fear, there is also the WYES Private Beer Sampling being held at Mardi Gras World (same location for both nights) on Friday, June 21st.  Yes, that's also exactly one year before I'm getting married, so I'll be looking to celebrate.  I went into detail a few weeks ago about some of the good beers to expect that Friday night, so today it's going to be about what I'm looking forward to the most on Saturday night. 

Here's the link for the full brochure for both nights... as you can see there are a LOT of top notch commercial beers available.  The good stuff like Anchor, Atlanta Brewing, Boston Beer, Brooklyn Brewery, Chimay, Duvel, Full Sail, Goose Island, Green Flash, Harpoon, Mendocino, Moylan's, New Belgium, North Coast, Ommegang, Rogue, Schmaltz, Sierra Nevada, Southern Tier, Stone, and Unibroue. That's already quite a lineup and I'm just getting warmed up.

There will also be the full lineup of local & regional breweries like Abita, Bayou Teche, Chafunkta, Covington, Crooked Letter, Lazy Magnolia, NOLA, Parish, Saint Arnold, Spoetzl, and Tin Roof.  Of those, only Crooked Letter out of Mississippi isn't available locally.  You can bet I'm going to try their stuff.  And don't be surprised if a few of these guys have something at the festival that you can't normally get. 

After this is where it starts to get REALLY interesting... because this is a not-for-profit organization and event, they can allow the "breweries in planning" to attend and serve their beer.  They'll be listed as the "Independents" in the brochure due to not having a distributor yet, but don't miss these breweries.  This will be the start of stuff that you probably haven't tried before.  40 Arpent out of Arabi will be there, as well as Bombastic Beers in Abita Spring, a project started by Ron of Main Grain Homebrew Supplies.  Cajun Fire out of New Orleans is going to be there for at least the second year in a row, as will BR Beer Scene favorite Gnarly Barley Brewing from Hammond and Mudbug Brewery from Thibodaux. From out of state there will be the Pensacola Bay Brewery (listed as an independent since they don't have a LA distributor) and the Middle Bay Brewery from Mobile, AL.  And lastly, Louisiana newcomer Tu Lu Lu Brewery from Cut Off, the only one that I've never tried before.  I'll definitely be sure to check them out.

Finally, in my opinion the best part of a festival like this is the homebrewers.  There will be 14 different homebrew groups represented, from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.  And yeah I'm biased because I'm a member of the Brasseurs A La Maison and my fiance' and I brewed a beer for the festival, but the homebrews are what you need to try.  Mostly because they tend to come 5-gallons at a time and when they are gone, they are gone.  Maybe never to be brewed again.  Find them, try them, talk to the people that brewed the beer... and most of all, enjoy!

With that... I can't wait.  Hope to see plenty of readers down in New Orleans this weekend!

Monday, June 17, 2013

New Releases: Stone RuinTen IPA and Abita Select Strawator

First off, releasing TODAY is Stone Brewing's RuinTen IPA, a re-release of last year's hugely successful Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA.  I mentioned it back in April, but it appears the time is now.  Well, probably not exactly now, but LA is on the release list so we should see ours before too long.  They describe the beer as "A stage dive into a mosh pit of hops." Yes please!  


Also, look for Abita's new select series, the Strawator starting next week.  Or this weekend at WYES! Next week in town it will be at a handful of places... Chimes East at 4:30 on Wednesday (the 26th) then Pelican House at 6:00 the same day.  Then on Friday the 28th The Bulldog will have it from 6-7 and Red Zeppelin from 7-8.  Plenty of chances to try this new one, which seems like a combination of Strawberry Harvest and Andygator.  They describe it as: 

"Strawator is a take on our most popular Harvest Series beer, Strawberry Harvest Lager. It is a strong golden lager made with malted barley and wheat. Despite being strong, it is still light in color. It is hopped with German Perle hops to give the beer a delicate hop flavor. After filtration, generous amounts of fresh Louisiana strawberry juice is added, giving the beer a pleasant sweet taste and aroma, as well as a nice golden color and slight cloudiness."
It comes in at 8% abv, the same as Andygator.  Worth trying?  Sure.  The last Select series brew, the Mayhawk, was one of Abita's best in recent memory so hopefully this one follows that trend.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Southern Tier Live

It's time for part 3 of 3 featuring Southern Tier Brewing in Feature Beer Friday! Last week was the 2XIPA and two weeks ago featured the Hop Sun Summer Wheat Beer.

Just like the 2XIPA, the Southern Tier Live is available in bottles year-round.  I've also seen it on draft at the Bulldog and I'm sure they aren't the only ones to pick up a few Southern Tier beers for their taps.  The Live is a bottle-conditioned American Pale Ale, coming in at a sessionable 5.5% abv.  I know most people consider 5% the cutoff for a session beer, but that extra .5% isn't going to do you in.  Especially not the beer nerds out there used to imperial everything.   

Live is named due to the "alive" nature of beer as yeast consumes sugars and converts them into alcohol.  While the wort is turning into beer it is indeed alive with millions of living yeast organisms.  Some beer is filtered and maybe even pasteurized to kill off or suspend the yeast prior to bottling but with the Live they add a little more to produce a secondary fermentation and give this the bottle conditioning they advertise.  See, this is an educational blog!  

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Brenton Day (The Ale, and Dustin Davis.

Serving: 12 ounce bottle.

Appearance: Kind of like the other two Southern Tier beers, this one was clear and a deep gold.  I expected more haze from a bottle conditioned ale, oh well.  

Aroma: We all liked the aroma a lot, I picked up some grapefruit, and Brenton was all about the pine.  

Taste: Just like the aroma, almost bordering on an IPA hop balance but that was just fine with us.  It really had a good hop flavor without an overpowering bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation, good lingering hoppiness... very nice.   

Overall: Of the three Southern Tier beers we tried this was the unanimous winner. I'd pick up another 6-pack of this one for sure.

Overall Rating: 80.33
My Rating: 75

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Win Two Tickets to the WYES International Beer Tasting!

Do you want to check out all the beers featured at the WYES International Beer Tasting on June 22nd in New Orleans?  BR Beer Scene will be giving away a pair of tickets this Sunday afternoon, all you have to do to enter is either share this post on Facebook, or become a new follower of the BR Beer Scene Facebook page.  I'm going to take the names of all shares and new followers and conduct a random drawings at approximately noon on Sunday, June 16th, and then I'll promptly announce the winner and contact you via Facebook. 

Also be sure to like the WYES Facebook page... it won't help you win, but it shows some support to the organization putting on the tasting. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Feature Beer Friday! - Southern Tier 2XIPA

It's time for part 2 of 3 featuring Southern Tier Brewing in Feature Beer Friday! Last week was the Hop Sun and next week is going to be the Live Pale Ale. 
The 2XIPA is exactly the style it should be... a Double IPA.  It's not super strong at 8.2%, but that's enough to pass into the DIPA range.  It is one of their yearly offerings, not to be confused with the Unearthly, the yearly Imperial IPA they offer in bombers.  Why do they call one a Double IPA and one an Imperial IPA?  I'm not really sure, most people use those terms interchangeably, but not Southern Tier!  

They describe this 2XIPA as "feverishly hoppy with a malty backbone and higher-than-standard alcohol content.  Citrusy hops tease the senses with aromatics and lingering bitterness, while just the right balance of malts disguises 2XIPA's extra gravity."  Let's see how accurate that is!

Reviewers: Eric Ducote (BR Beer Scene), Brenton Day (The Ale, and Dustin Davis.

Serving: 12 ounce bottle.

Appearance: Everyone noted the clear aspect of this one, and it was more golden in color than expected.  It looked a lot like the Hop Sun, not really a good thing considering the two styles.

Aroma: Hoppy, but nothing stood out to me.  Brenton picked up pine and citrus.

Taste: "Hoppy but with balance," was Dustin's comment.  I didn't find as much balance honestly, more just hoppy.

Mouthfeel: Brenton said it had a "pungent and strong finish without being excessively bitter."   

Overall: I didn't enjoy this as much as my co-reviewers, but it's still a decent DIPA.  Brenton was the biggest fan of the group, but we all gave it above average scores.

Overall Rating: 65
My Rating: 56

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Louisiana Craft Brewers Week - Coming in September!

It appears that a resolution to declare the week of Sep. 23-29th Louisiana Craft Brewers Week has passed through the legislature!  Thanks to the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild for helping make this happen.  And if you like local craft beer, consider becoming a supporter of the guild, I am!

This is great news for the local beer scene and I hope we get some good events and special releases from the now seven operational breweries in the State!

For more LA beer info, here's a video about Louisiana craft beer that my brother of Bite And Booze (I'm also going to steal his tap handles picture) produced with our friend Tommy Talley for Louisiana Travel!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WYES Private Beer Sampling Beer List!

Hey everyone, I was sent an advance copy of the WYES Private Beer Sampling beer list for Friday, June 21st... it's of course not finalized and subject to change, but I thought I'd share some of the beers that interest me the most.  One of the best things about the Friday Private Beer Sampling is that breweries bring out some one-off special release beers and often casks.  There are also select homebrews available, plus there will be food from Cabot Creamery, Sun Ray Grill and Zapp's Potato Chips!  All included with the ticket price. 

Also, be sure to check back next week as I'll be giving away a pair of tickets to the WYES International Beer Tasting on Saturday, June 22nd!  Giveaway details to come later.

So here are the beers that really caught my eye when looking over the list:

Abita Strawator - 8.0% - American Strong Lager - Sounds like an attempt to combine the Strawberry Harvest Lager with the Andygator?  I'm intrigued, for sure.

Abita Specialty Firkin - TBD - This is what I was talking about above... the breweries break out some special stuff for the Private Beer Sampling.

Boston Beer Company Stonybrook - 9.0% - American Wild Ale - Will try this for sure.

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum - 10.4% - Double IPA - So this isn't new or limited, but it's one of my favorite Double IPAs and I haven't had it yet in 2013, so that along has my mouth watering.

NOLA Special Cask - TBD - Just like the Abita above, this is one I will seek out, no matter what it is.  NOLA will also have some of their standard brews, including the Mechahopzilla and 7th Street Wheat.

40 Arpent Berliner Weiss - 4.0% - 40 Arpent is one of the several breweries in planning that will be represented, I'm looking forward to their take on a German sour style.

Cajun Fire Brewing - These guys are planning on bringing a Lemon Berry Ale, Hoppy Hour Double IPA, Acadiana Honey Ale, and Root Beer Ale.  I plan on trying all four.

Chafunkta Brewing FontaineBlue Berry Wheat IPA - 6.5% - Fruit Beer - A wheat IPA with Japanese and American hops plus fresh LA blueberries?  I'm excited to try this offering from Louisiana's newest craft brewery.

Gnarly Barley Porter Rican - 6.0% - Porter - I've heard a lot about this brew from Gnarly Barley, so I'm excited to try it... a Baltic Milk Porter infused with organic toasted coconut and aged on rum soaked oak chips. They had me at Gnarly.

Great Raft Ermahgerd Hops - 7.5% - Double IPA - Love the name from this Shreveport brewery in planning... they should be legal pretty soon.

Great Raft Reasonably Corrupt - 4.8% - Schwarzbier - Another one from Shreveport's brewery in planning, nothing wrong with a good schwarzbier!

Mudbug King Cake Ale - 4.0% - Spiced Ale - Yes, it lives up to the name.

Mudbug Cask Conditioned Chocolate Cajun Stout - 5.5% - American Stout - I like everything about that.  

Old Rail Cow Catcher Milk Chocolate Stout - 5.7% - Milk Stout - About time we see something from this brewpub in Mandeville!   

Old Rail Seven Sisters IPA - 7.0% - American IPA - More from this new brewpub in Mandeville.

Tu Lu Lu Kölsch - 5.0% - Kölsch - Nothing really exciting about a kölsch to me, but apparently there's a new brewery in planning, and THAT is exciting.

Crooked Letter Brewing - This new brewery from Ocean Springs, MS is expected to bring 5 beers to the party.  I'm expected to try them all.

Parish Calypso Single Hop IPA - 6.5% - American IPA - I want to try everything Parish makes.  Everything.

Parish Pacifica Single Hope IPA - 6.5% - American IPA - See above.

Tin Roof Rougarou Black Ale - 9.5% - Double Black IPA - I've been wanting to try this Tin Roof offering ever since I heard about it. 

Homebrewers - Honestly, the best thing about any festival that allows homebrewers is well... the homebrews.  There are a lot of beers above to try, but there will be several homebrews as well, including two from my club, the Brasseurs A La Maison.  Last year I wasn't able to try them all, and looking back at the list above, I probably won't this year either.  At least not if I want to remember them.