Friday, June 29, 2012

Fried chicken & beer perfection

I may have expressed my excitement previously about my favorite neighborhood bistro, Coquette, having a special dinner with all you can eat fried chicken, greens, watermelon, mashed potatoes, creole tomatoes, cornbread, coleslaw, accompanied by delicious beers.

It was pretty much the best night ever. Talked to really nice and cool folks, ate great food (in addition to the above, there were passed apps that included shrimp, deviled eggs, and this amaaaaaaazing boudin wrapped in collard greens and cut up to sort of approximate sushi rolls) and drank some very nice beer that was well suited to the hot summer evening.

We were greeted with a Lil' Slammer, which was a cute way to start, and having just walked in from the heat, it went down nice and easy.  Then as we wandered, we found the beer table pouring Stoudt's Karnival Kolsch and Anchor's Brekles Brown.

Everyone was super nice, and after talking with a fellow ChowHound (Sanglier) and his guests for a bit, we found ourselves chatting with Brady, a beer blogger from the Washington DC area who had just moved down here. (He also told me that he found out about this from my blog, which always makes me happy tp hear!) We also ran into Rene and Lindsey who are part of the Blackened Out team, and we all 5 ended up at a table together. When we sat, I was pleased to see a wine bucket of beer in front of me!

Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace and Sam Adams' Cinder Bock. Brady ended up taking the bottles up to warm slightly, a sentiment I definitely appreciated.  OK, so the food started coming out:


Creole tomato with basil and mint

Stunning- watermelon with sea beans, scallions, and lime

Collards, of course

OMG SO MUCH FRIED CHICKEN- deep fried on the left, cast iron pan fried on the right
It was at this time I had to stop taking photos because my hands were too greasy from eating chicken. Also, I didn't ever want to stop eating chicken. Or the mashed potatoes and gravy, which I must have had like 4 helpings of. Rene was working on a challenge he'd issued (to himself or to Chef Michael Stoltzfus, I wasn't real clear on that) and got through 8 pieces of chicken. Tom got 6, and I only had 4. That's 'cause I was eating those mashed potatoes like crazy. I was ridiculed for wasting valuable stomach space on the sides, but I stand by my decision! More and more chicken appeared on our platter, faster than we could eat it! A new bowl of mashed potatoes arrived, as if by magic. It was heaven, HEAVEN I TELL YOU.

And then... dessert. I was pretty thrashed by this point, but I did have a glass of the Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout and most of a piece of peach crisp.

Again, good and fun times, orchestrated by a group of people who seem to really want to have fun with they way we are served and drink beer. Love it! The next beer dinner I'm going to will probably be much more formal, since it's a Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Dinner- it will feature pork in all its glory paired with various beers and beer cocktails!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Green Flash! Report and Ramble...

Last week was the much anticipated Louisiana launch of the well-regarded San Diego brewery Green Flash. I'd been looking forward to it, especially since I'd had only limited exposure to it before moving-I think MA only had West Coast IPA, their flagship.

The Avenue Pub did a three day rollout between June 19 and 21. Tom and I showed up on the last day of the rollout, when all the beers (even the bottles) were available for tasting. We each got a tasting ticket (5 tastes for $12) and proceeded to sample the list. Funny story- I started using the Untappd app recently and I started checking in all the beers we were sampling - since I was checking in both our beers and they were small amounts, I was doing so fairly rapidly. After the 4th or 5th check in, I got a message from my friend the Beer Buddha, saying, "Nora, slow down. Seriously!" Oops! I explained the logistics, got made fun of a little bit.

On to the beers!
Le Freak!

First up: I had the Le Freak and Tom had the Retro Extra Pale Ale. The Le Freak is a combination of a Belgian Tripel and Imperial IPA, and it is quite a good beer. It hides it's 9.2% ABV quite well with the tripel yeast and the hops- those two flavors merge into something very unique and drinkable. The Retro is an interesting beer, brewed to celebrate Green Flash's 10-year anniversary. This is what they say about it:
Fall 2012 marks our 10 year anniversary and Extra Pale Ale was the first-ever Green Flash success. A celebratory reminder of the beginning for us - and also about how much our style and craft beer culture has evolved over the past decade. While this early Millennium American-Style Pale is from a time less hoppy, we think our 2012 redux is the perfect summer vintage: crisp, refreshing and bubbling with nostalgia.
We liked it quite a lot- it's a very crisp summer beer. A bit astringent on the finish, but still tasty. Easy drinking, Tom drank it up right quick! Next up for us:  Tom had the Linchpin White IPA and I stayed sort of on the Belgian train with their straight up Trippel. The trippel is a classic take on the style, using Styrian Golding and Czech Saaz to match up against the belgian yeast. It was good. Not particularly envelope-pushing as some of their other beers are, but a good, solid representation of the style. The Linchpin White IPA is a collaboration of Green Flash's with Founders Brewing, brewed with wheat, two strains of yeast, and the three citrus-y "C" hops (Columbus, Centennial, Cascade).  A great combination, again, really drinkable on a summer day.

Next: Imperial IPA for me and the Barleywine for Tom. I liked the Imperial IPA- it was pretty well balanced for a  double/imperial style, drinkable and super super hoppy. Tom loved the Barleywine- very different interpretation of the style. A little lighter in color than usual, it finished drier than I'm used to with barleywines, and Tom described the flavor as liquid english toffee smashed with tons of hops. In a good way.

OK, at that point we moved upstairs to try the bottle pours as well as the rest of the Green Flash on tap. Tom tried the Saison Diego which he also loved- an unfiltered farmhouse saison brewed with Seville orange peels, Chinese ginger, and grains of paradise. It drank clean, crisp, and dry, was full of flavor and well balanced, and to top it off- it was a session beer! 4.2% Victory! I had the Double Stout Black Ale (and, OK, my notes are starting to get more and more random here) which was highly recommended by all the bartenders, and it was quite delicious. Roasty, smooth, dry finish, a nice balanced bitterness hidden underneath the malt and booze.

On to the two weird ones: Biere L'amite (another collaboration, this one with Brasserie Saint Feuillien, which had been aged. Wow, this one was very unique and had a lot of cool stuff going on. It's a Belgian pale ale style, brewed with rye and Trappist yeast. Would like to try again to pin down everything happening on the palate. It was really good, though. Also up: the Rayon Vert, another Belgian-style pale ale, but this one, while equally interesting, was quite different than the L'amite. It had a strong hoppy characteristic which went very well with the belgian yeast and the Brett sour funk. Quite a beer. Bought some from Steins to take home to re-examine (along with the Double Stout, Le Freak, and West Coast IPA.)

We finished up with the West Coast IPA and the Hophead Red, their two flagship beers, which were both great. The West Coast is just hop-juicy and delicious, and the Red has a nice malt backbone that complements the hoppiness. At that point, though, we were a little palate fatigued, and we knew those two would be around more often than the others.

Some really good beers, and I'm very excited that New Orleans has access to them now! Another step in a great direction on New Orleans being more and more of a beer destination. Mmm, I wonder if we'll get any Green Flash on cask this year...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fried chicken and beer dinner at Coquette!

OK, so you missed the first Coquette beer dinner.  It's all right, you didn't know any better.  Now you do!  So call the restaurant for reservations ASAP (504-265-0241) for the upcoming Fried Chicken And Beer Dinner on Tuesday, June 26 at 7:00pm.

Behold! the menu:

Passed Hors D'oeuvres & Ponies
Collard Green and Boudin "Grapeleaves"
Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs
Pickled Gulf Shrimp
Accompanying beers: Anchor Brekle's Brown, Stoudt's Kolsch, and Wasatch Little Slammer

Family Style Fried Chicken Dinner
Three Varieties of Fried Chicken
Collard Greens
Potato Salad
Cole Slaw
Heirloom Tomatoes
Watermelon Salad
Mashed Potatoes
Accompanying beers:  Brooklyn Sorachi Ace and Rogue Dead Guy

Peach Crisp
Chocolate Pecan Tart
Summer Berry Shortcake
Accompanying beer:  Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout

OK SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, THIS WILL BE EPIC.  (possibly I love fried chicken a little too much, hence, epic designation.)

$60pp, all inclusive of tax, tip, etc. Call for reservations. You can be damn sure I didn't post this till I made mine.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beer+ Fundraiser = Sipping in the Sun!

So, in my non-beer drinking life I work for a non-profit organization here in New Orleans, and often cross paths with other community organizations who are working to raise money to support their work. Jen Gick from Longue Vue House and Gardens and I crossed paths yesterday and I found out about this event which was truly RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS:

Tom and I will be going- what's not to love? Beer, food, beautiful grounds, and a good cause on a lazy Sunday. And $12? A steal! Hope to see ya there. Email or call Jen Gick (504-293-4723, by Friday to get your RSVPs in, very important!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pretty Things. And History.

So, holy crap, Pretty Things Beer And Ale Project (originally from Somerville, MA, our old stomping grounds) is now apparently being kinda-sorta distributed in New Orleans! First, for American Craft Beer Week, the Avenue Pub did a tasting of two beers released through their "Once Upon A Time" project. This particular project was the result of a collaboration with beer historian Ron Pattinson, and examined what happens when you brew the same Mild "X" beer as it was brewed in both 1838 and 1945. From their website:
Two X Ales from the same London brewery, 107 years apart: these beers were brewed and sold as the “same beer”. But they weren’t the same beer at all! This side-by-side release allows you to taste history in a very direct, beat-you-about-the-head kind of way. The beers are whoppingly, fantastically different. There’s no way you would think they are connected by the same brewery, brand name and style. Isn’t history wonderful?
 We first tasted these beers during the Pub event during ACBW, and then a few weeks later, with bottles procured at Stein's that same night and kept refrigerated. Here's what they look like side by side:

1945 on the left, 1838 on the right
The 1838 is described on the website as "golden and very hoppy." I would certainly have agreed with that assessment when we had the beers on draft at the Pub, but the bottle pour is much less hoppy and has a definite smoke taste on the back end of the swallow. Both times I've had it there was a significant bready malt taste present. I'd have loosely compared the 1838 on draft to a British IPA, but in the bottle, it definitely has more yeast and malt notes, and the smoke at the end... that earthiness brings to mind something more along the lines of a farmhouse ale. Both times we had it, it was tasty- it was just quite different from draft to bottle.

The 1945 is post WWII rationing symbolized perfectly in this beer. It's dark, weak (2.8%!!!) and very grainy. Now, from that description, you may not think that would be a tasty beer.  But wait! The grain flavor is subtly roasted and robust, and it is an exceedingly pleasant beer to drink. Very low carbonation and thin mouthfeel make it easy drinking, and the roasty notes and background spicy hop bitterness gives it a good flavor. It's not a popular style for today's beer geek, but I like it lots- it's got the session ale thing going on, and dammit, I like a nice mild from time to time! (commence shunning.)

So we found these two beers along with bottles of Jack D'Or (Pretty Things' flagship beer, an "American Saison") at Stein's (were all still there as of this past Thursday) and this past Friday, the Avenue Pub had bottles of two other Pretty Things beer: Fluffy White Rabbits and Babayaga. I had a Fluffy White Rabbits and it was EXCELLENT- a beautiful hoppy tripel style. YUM. I hope I can still get my hands on the Babayaga when I return this weekend.

According to Polly Watts at the Avenue Pub, Pretty Things comes sporadically (in both kegs and bottles) and is generally drunk up quick. DAMN YOU FACEBOOK, WHY DON'T YOU PUT THE PUB'S UPDATES IN MY FEED!?!?!? So, you know, keep an eye out. I generally track what's going on through Twitter, because it looks like every time they post a new beer on BeerMenus, it automatically updates to Twitter. Watts has featured Pretty Things during her nanobrewery night during American Craft Beer Week for the past two years, and that history with Shelton Brothers helped her land the Once Upon A Time beers. However, the deliveries are anything but regular and reliable, making it a happy day and wonderful surprise when they show up in town.

Pretty Things had just started getting off the ground when we left New England a couple of years ago, and I wish I'd had a chance to get to know it a bit more before we left. But now, it's starting to come to us, little by little, in dribs and drabs, which is just super fantastic. Fingers crossed it continues!