I'm not hungover, and I've been getting a decent night's sleep every night - the precautions I've stuck to have definitely been working. It's like a cumulative exhaustion that gets more and more intense every morning I wake up. I love beer, I love drinking beer, I love talking to people about beer, I love seeing others enjoy beer. I love it more than pretty much anything else. I am still enjoying myself going to events. But I'm tired.
My house is a mess, we have no groceries, or clean glasses, or spoons. Prescriptions have languished at the drugstore, never to be picked up. There's a mountain of laundry in the corner of my bedroom that I am afraid might become sentient at any moment. Everything has come to a stop while ACBW is going on. Thankfully, my husband has been accompanying on most of these events otherwise I wouldn't be seeing him at all either. (Thanks, Tom!)
It's not just me - last night I saw brewers and brewery employees and bartenders and bar owners with the same look on their faces as I felt on mine. We're all comrades in the ACBW marathon - we nod at each other across the bar, sit in silence with each other to just zone out without looking like weirdos, and basically try to keep each other going. I have a non-beer related day job, which is one reason I'm so tired, but these folks are putting in as many if not more hours every day at their beer related jobs too.
"Then why do it?" you may be asking. "Why not just stop? It's not like this is the most important thing in the world." This is correct. And this is my choice. No one asked me to do this or paid me to do this. But I feel like the New Orleans craft beer community deserves to be celebrated this week, and its triumphs should be witnessed and recorded. And it's an opportunity to learn so much and get to know the industry folks a lot better. It's like I'm a craft beer groupie and I'm getting my hands on a backstage pass. Yeah, I'm a dork about beer, and that's the truth.
(Funny related story: last night when Tom and I got to Evangeline, Derek from Bayou Teche ordered them and put them on his tab. I literally threw my hands in the air and shouted "YAAAAAAAAY!" Because I am SO not cool, or suave, or blase, or anything like that. I never expect anyone to buy me anything. So when someone does I AM SO EXCITE! So big thanks to Derek from Bayou Teche, Jon from Tin Roof, and Josh from Lazy Mag, and apologies if my over-exuberance was inappropriate!)
OK! Onto the events of the night. Stopped at the Avenue Pub right after work to have a few pours of the local Hophead night beers. (none of the non-locals really looked like anything I NEEDED to try, though I did enjoy a Sierra Nevada 4oz pour at the end of my hop flight.) Upon my arrival at the downstairs bar, I tried the Lazy Magnolia Timber Beast on cask - was double dry hopped with Simcoe and Zythos, and casked with sage. Got the Simcoe on the nose and the sage on the palate. After that I tried Tin Roof's Juke Joint IPA crammed with all kinds of extra hops in the keg. It was a less measured approach than some others', but it was pretty tasty.
The last local IPA I had downstairs was Covington's Bombastic IPA. There's an interesting story behind this beer - there was a competition held to determine the best recipe held earlier this year, and last month, Covington hosted a group of 45 folks to all participate in the brewing of the beer. Everyone took home some of the wort to ferment, and this is the Brewhouse's finished product. It was very different from the other IPAs available - it was almost a British style IPA. The color was a bit darker, and the flavor had a lot more malty muscle. I liked it.
Moving upstairs, I sipped on a cask conditioned MechaHopzilla by NOLA Brewing. I liked the cask version a lot - many of the strong flavors had mellowed, creating a... rounder? flavor and a very pleasing mouthfeel. Then I enjoyed a pour of Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere IPA, which was lovely.
Non-IPA related, I also had a pint of the newest batch of Green Flash Saison Diego, one of my favorite beers. It's a light and flavorful session ale and it goes down so nice on a warm evening. Very excited that this is back in circulation. The Avenue Pub had it on draft last night, but even when it's gone, they should have large bottles for a reasonable price.
Before leaving the Pub, Polly introduced me to another beer-loving couple who had been regular customers when they were still serving Coors Light on draft downstairs, but moved away for work related reasons for a few years, and have just returned. They are excited about all the changes that have taken place since they've been in New Orleans steadily, which was cool to hear about.
After our chat and finishing our saisons, Tom and I hopped along over to the French Quarter to Evangeline, where Bayou Teche had a cask of their Biere Noir and Tin Roof had 2 special kegs - the Blond spiced up with the Thai chile peppers (it was very popular at the Bugs & Brew event) and part of their ACBW yeast experiment - British yeast in their Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale, transforming it into "Parliament Pale Ale." The cask ale was very nice - I like the Noir and thought that the cask conditioning did right by it. I also enjoyed the Parliament, the yeast added a dimension that made it smoother, more fruity, and fuller-bodied. I'd recommend this be an experiment they repeat. Maybe even do a regular release of it!
|twinkling lights! Under the trees! Evangeline courtyard!|
We enjoyed our beers in the courtyard which was beautiful, mellow, and had a cat wandering it. (YAY!)
|Kitty was not interested in the catarazzi to say the least|
I hung around to chat with Ed and his wife about cats (and beer), as well as one of their regulars who was having an impassioned scifi TV geek conversation with a woman visiting from Arizona. I joined in, of course, being a total scifi TV geek. And also geeked a bit about beer. Because that's how I do.
And that's what it comes down to - no matter how tired I am in the morning, and how long the evening ahead may seem, my energy comes from interacting with other people who love beer. Their passion inspires me, and the beer that these breweries are creating does too. I may be fatigued until the end of the weekend, but it will be worth it.
Still tired. But loving it.
OK, ACBW TGIF Version!
Friday May 17
6 p.m. — American Craft Cask Crawl down St. Charles Ave.
At Avenue Pub:
- Parish Brewing Hibiscus Canebrake dry-hopped with NZ Pacifica
- Parish Envie double-dry-hopped with Amarillo/NZ Pacifica
- NOLA Citra Blonde
- Brash Item 9
- Parish New Zealand Dry Hop (Rakau)
Barley Oak7 p.m. - Parish/Tin Roof Night. Parish: Draft Grand Reserve and Envie, bottle: Farmhouse IPA. Tin Roof: Draft Manchester Brewnited and Perfect Tin Amber.
5 p.m.-7 p.m. — cask of Bayou Teche imported French hop (Aramis, Triskel, and Bouclier) dry hopped pale ale. Cajun music provided live by The Brasseurs.
8 p.m.-10 p.m. — Sam Adams Night featuring Blueberry Hill Lager, Porch Rocker, and Chocolate Bock.
6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Lazy Magnolia “Southern Date Night” featuring Southern Belle and Southern Gentleman.
8 p.m.-10 p.m. — New Belgium sampling featuring releases from their Lips of Faith Series and staples like Flat Tire and Sunshine Wheat.
Small plate pairing, $11. Rogue Dead Guy Ale with corned beef & cabbage
Lager’s Metairie (3501 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-887-9923; www.lagersmetairie.draftfreak.com)
6 p.m. — Abita cask night featuring Turbodog Cask Dry Hopped with Fuggle Hops ($6.00 pints) and free, special glassware.
Martin's Wine Cellar Metairie (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 504-896-7300; www.martinwine.com)
6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. — Craft Beer and BBQ Tasting. This reception style tasting will feature a special selection of BBQ catered menu items from the Martin Wine Cellar Catering staff and over 70 beers to taste. $20 per person. Call 504-896-7300 for reservations and information.
Winos & Tacos (321 N. Columbia St., Covington, 985-809-3029)
6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Two Abita casks available: Buffalo Trace Turbodog cask and Belgian Style Golden Ale cask
I'll be hitting the cask crawl down St. Charles tonight, and maybe having some dinner at the Irish House after that.
Tomorrow is the ACBW Grand Tasting at the Avenue Pub, as well as tons of other stuff in different areas of New Orleans and the Northshore.