Even though it’s thoroughly chilly outside, my stony heart is finally, after almost 30 years living in the South, warming up to Mardi Gras. Not everything associated with Carnival, mind you, just some aspects of the celebration.
I just attended my second Krewe Du Vieux parade over in New Orleans. The side of me that’s always rebelled against authority and laughed as bloviated, arrogant demagogues are called out on the mat absolutely eats up this largely locals only neighborhood parade. The subversive – and extremely grown up… do not bring your kids – nature of Krewe Du Vieux satisfies my snarky side. Political gaffes, public scandal and failure of unpopular policies are lampooned to the nth degree.
Seeing my Crescent City friends spend days, if not weeks, building multiple costumes for all the myriad occasions Carnival season has for them, well, it makes me smile. I can vicariously pick up on their burgeoning excitement and what Mardi Gras means to them; friendship, good times, sharing in unique experiences and the more-than-occasional tipple or ten.
Over “Polish and Russian soul food” in Siberia Bar on St. Claude, I was telling a friend of mine about the new releases from Abita Brewing. Shaking her head, she lamented that their Purple Haze Raspberry Wheat had accidentally become a “tourist beer” for the parades. Funny that she should mention Purple Haze. I was just about to tell her of one of our favorite Abita Select Series offerings returning.
Carnival’s history is one of the other things I’m beginning to enjoy. Purple is one of the three official colors of Mardi Gras. This goes back to 1872 when Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanov came to visit New Orleans. His court’s colors were gold, green and purple, so the head of the Krewe of Rex honored his presence by declaring that these would be the colors for that year’s parade. Twenty years later they were officially adopted as the permanent colors of Mardi Gras. Purple, by the way, stands for justice.
If it’s an injustice that Purple Haze has gotten a bad rap by way of overindulgent tourists, Abita more than rights the scales with their Select Series Triple Haze. Only to be found on tap in exclusive accounts, this strong gold lager version of their popular core brand isn’t quite the shade of purple to augment my previous paragraph but it is a cool hue of orange-red with a slowly disappearing egg white head. The barley/wheat combination in the malt bill gives the beer a lemon scent quality with a little bit of hay and fresh bread plus crushed berries. German Perle hops lend a hint of spicy pepper plus floral notes while the raspberry comes off as tart instead of sweet.
I’ll be on our balcony enjoying a Triple Haze while the parades roll past this weekend; yet another nice facet of Carnival to enjoy. Getting warmer!