Sunday, June 19, 2011

Across Lake Pontchartrain!

Over the causeway and through the woods...

Tom and I went to Mandeville to pick up some excellent beers being donated for the Beers Not Bullets fundraiser that's happening THIS FRIDAY (Have you got your tickets yet???). Driving across the causeway always makes me feel so sleepy. Doubly so on the way back after having stopped at the Barley Oak Old World Draught House. The Barley Oak is a big supporter of the event, so I've been going back and forth with them via email about sponsorship stuff. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to go visit the place after all our communication!

The location was beautiful and it was an ideal day to go. It's right on the edge of the lakeside so it was just blue sky and water as far as the eye could see. We ate and drank inside, but it was breezy enough to enjoy a beer out on the patio in the shade very comfortably. Tom said that it reminded him of an English pub- especially the wallpaper that covered about half of the interior walls. There was also lots of beautiful dark gleaming wood, comfy chairs arranged by the fireplace, and a general dark and cozy feel that was a beautiful contrast to the sunny day and water scene outside.

They had a nice beer selection - looked to be about 40-45 beers on tap. I had the newly released NOLA Hurricane Saison, which is just excellent this year. I spoke to Kirk Coco about the difference between last year's version and this year's and the big thing was the yeast. Last year, NOLA Brewing didn't have the resources to propagate yeast in-house, so they were dependent on a commercially available dry Belgian style yeast. There aren't that many to choose from, so the yeast flavor profile options were limited at best. But this year the capacity of the brewery has increased so that they are able to use a more traditional yeast for the saison. And it makes a huge difference. In a saison like this one, so much of the character comes from the yeast. It's really excellent, and I highly recommend it.

I would also like to note that I held this conversation with Kirk while serving his beer at a neighborhood event in the Irish Channel to benefit the Lyons Center facilities. NOLA Brewing donated 2 kegs for the Lyons-Burke Booster Club to sell as a fundraiser. Between this weekend and next weekend with the Beers Not Bullets fundraiser, Kirk and the entire NOLA Brewing team have really shown their commitment to community service. Stay awesome, NOLA Brewing! (at least until after Friday.)

Anyway, Tom had a crisp, refreshing Schmaltz Coney Island Mermaid, an American Pilsner which was a very enjoyable and quaff-able beer on a hot and sunny day. His second beer was the Chatoe Rogue ORE-gasmic American Pale Ale, a hoppy pale. The beer poured beautifully- a gorgeous orange-copper color. A little hazy. It was quite hoppy and bitter, but also very very malty. The two aspects of the beer seemed to be wrestling it out for dominance. An interesting beer, I'd definitely try it again.

We also had a quick late lunch- cheeseburger for me and a grilled cheese sandwich for Tom. Nothing fancy, but they were both prepared very nicely. My accompanying potato salad had bacon in it (an automatic win) and the burger bun was some sort of delicious brioche type thing- it held together great, but was still soft and very tasty. Tom enjoyed the marinara-type dipping sauce (which he pepped up with some hot sauce) for his grilled cheese. Nicely prepared comfort food. Nothing fancy, but done right.

We've been rumbling about taking a vacation lately, and today's drive around the Mandeville lakeside has me wondering if they have vacation rentals there... Walking distance from the Barley Oak, of course.

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