We’re smack in the middle of Carnival season again and I find myself reminiscing on Mardi Gras past… and how much Abita Beer has been along for the ride.
I never started coming to downtown Pensacola until I was in college. Back then it was solely to hang out at Sluggo’s when it was on the corner of Palafox and Intendencia. I recall watching the day parade from the library room at the front of the building. A grown man shoved a little kid aside for a Moon Pie. Seriously. A stupid Moon Pie. I couldn’t get my head around the coveting of cheap trinkets, so I stayed away from parades for a while. An Abita Turbodog called my name from the bar cooler so I turned my attention to more important issues.
Then there was my four years in New Orleans where it’s a statistical impossibility to dodge Mardi Gras. Aside from public transit being overwhelmed and most-times having to walk for a couple of hours to get to work, two Carnival moments stand out in my mind. First was meeting Adam Clayton of U2 on the Magazine Street bus. They were in town to play the 2002 Super Bowl and, in his words, he wanted to feel like a local. I pointed out “locals” don’t ride the bus wearing a $2500 designer outfit with shoes that cost more than I had in my bank account. With his attitude bordering on the childish, I rang for my stop, patted him on the shoulder and told him I loved everything they recorded before “Achtung, Baby” and got off the bus. Later in the day I re-told the story with friends over Abita Ambers at The Shim Sham Club.
That nightclub was also where I part-timed security, DJ and bar back shifts. My final Mardi Gras in the French Quarter was enshrouded in heavy fog making the old buildings even more eerie and romantic. Sound became muffled. You couldn’t even hear the roar of Bourbon Street two and a half blocks away. During the day I found a wallet with $300 in it and returned to the rightful owner. Karma was quick that day as I later found a $50 bill on the floor. Soon as midnight hit and the chief of police announced that “New Orleans is closed!” we locked the doors to non-locals, sat our exhausted selves down for celebratory belts of Jameson with an Abita back.
The big, Louisiana brewery from the North Shore of Pontchartrain just released a new India Pale Ale worth having a party over. Wrought Iron is their first foray into a year-round West Coast-style IPA which means it’s big on the hops. Honey-gold with a head that remains from 12th Night to Lent, Wrought Iron’s scents and flavors are as big as the Zulu and Rex parades are loud. Mosaic hops add mango, Equinox adds lemon-lime and Apollo loads up the grapefruit. With citrus peel for days, sweet pale malt takes care of balancing out the bitterness.
Grab yourself a Wrought Iron and catch the Krewe of Lafitte Parade from our front patio. Time to make some new Mardi Gras memories around an Abita or two.