The folks at Press Street originally wanted me to come try the food and make some recommendations that Press Street could make for people to bring with them - Press Street is still BYOB. It didn't work out to do that, but Patrick Hunter, resident beer geek at Brady's Wine Warehouse took a look at the menu and made some pretty spot on recommendations.
On the heels of a laughably ridiculously ignorant article that appeared in The Advocate this week (I'll get a little more into detail with that later), my Facebook thread (on which I posted the link to the journalistic travesty) had a very interesting discussion about what counts as a brewery?
I realized that I've been segregating brewpubs from my number and I don't think that was right. I think that if you brew beer and legally sell it to people in Louisiana, that should be considered a Louisiana brewery. Therefore, we should count Crescent City Brewhouse, The Old Rail Brewing Company, and, yes, Gordon Biersch, which is a franchise chain but does brew every drop of beer it sells on site. Locally. In New Orleans. The brewers there are talented and work hard.
The lines are getting so blurred, more and more each day. Courtyard is a very unique beer business model for the area. Broken Wheel is a brewery added to an existing restaurant so it's now a brewpub (but wasn't one originally). These diverse breweries will continue to evolve. So let's stop leaving brewpubs out in the cold and welcome them into the fold. I know that's how the state law is broken down, microbreweries/production breweries or brewpubs and never the twain shall meet, but that legislation is being re-evaluated and will hopefully be changing in the near future.
(Hm, I haven't heard anything about that lately, anyone got a sitrep?)
So here's my up to date list of Louisiana breweries, as of October 7, 2015. (In order of their opening.)
So, one of the things I'm lucky enough to do is experience a pretty wide variety of beer and food pairings with local and national craft breweries (and occasionally some international ones too). I think that this has honed my palate over the years to appreciate the interplay between different food flavor profiles and the diversity of flavors that comes from beer's malt, hops, alcohol content, and thousands of other chemical compounds and interactions.
It takes practice, and I've been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to practice a lot.
A specific opportunity recently came my way with the Wayfare restaurant on Freret, who reached out to me to pair a beer with one of their dishes. I chose Great Raft's Provisions and Traditions 3, an oak-aged Marzen style. It was a bit of a gimme, given that it was created in partnership with Chef Drake Leonards at Luke, and was therefore very food friendly.
I headed to the Wayfare and ordered an insane number of sandwiches (plus a salad and a side of mac & cheese) to see what worked. I ended up choosing the Wayfare's BL(fg)T, their BLT with additional fried green tomato. Now it's the recommended Nora McGunnigle Oktoberfest Special, running from October 19-25.
I've been continuing my beer dinner shenanigans this month, and I don't really need to bore you with the details, but I've noticed an interesting trend the last couple dinners I went to, where I've sat with a table of people who I don't know and aren't in the beer world. I had a great time talking to new people not only about the beer we're drinking together but also the beer scene in New Orleans and Louisiana. It's like doing craft beer outreach on an individual level. I love it! It's like evangelizing, spreading the good news about something I really believe in.
As we stand on the edge of Louisiana Craft Brewers Week, let us think of the breweries that have joined the ranks since this time last year - Courtyard Brewery, Mudbug Brewing. Broken Wheel, Flying Heart, Second Line, and Cajun Brewing - and rejoice.