Abita Restoration Ale

February 9, 2011

Last week’s article got me thinking about the ruin and abandonment in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The sheer scope of tragedy, the lives affected, the buildings utterly destroyed… all chilling reminders of the fragility of human life and the awesome powers of nature. A city I once called home now a surreal landscape of devastation.

It is estimated that over 204,000 structures were damaged or rendered uninhabitable. A staggering 800,000 residents of greater New Orleans displaced, something that hasn’t happened since the Dust Bowl migrations of the 1930s. As some people, fortunate enough to return, came back to begin the arduous process of repair, the rubble and ruined collections of flooded houses piled higher and higher in front yards and on curbs. Two of my friends who lived in Chalmette, Mark and Paul, had six feet of oily mud fill their house front to back. Literally everything lost.

I returned five months after the storm. As I drove down Claiborne, there were still four-way stop signs controlling traffic at the intersections… that is until nearing the richer neighborhoods. Coming back up Magazine St. I noticed an abandoned vehicle in one intersection missing all four wheels, smashed in on one side and a metal beam through its windshield.

Tourism being the city’s greatest economical asset, certainly the French Quarter was sound as ever. Of course it had never been terribly damaged from the storm as it’s strategically situated on higher elevation. The tourists were there swilling Hurricanes and munching beignets and Lucky Dogs. But what about the places the tourists never see? The vast acres of abandoned subdivisions full of mold and mud? How do you find the money to return to a normal life when everything you had is gone?

Every little bit helps and Abita Beer created an ale to contribute to their neighbors on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain. Restoration Ale is a classic and approachable American pale ale made from four malts and Cascade hops. It sports a brilliant honey-gold color and a rocky head of foam that leaves nice sticky lacing down the glass. Up front it smells of sweet cereal from the malt then gives way to grassy, fruity hops. Considering that it’s a dry-hopped ale its IBU is a low 20 so it’s not super spicy. Instead, a nice balance is struck between the caramel malts and a pleasing citrus zest. Restoration’s low-ish alcohol (5%) content paired with the restrained hop profile makes for a tasty and accommodating beer. Abita donates a portion of sales for every Restoration sold so grab a sixer and help rebuild the Crescent City.