I just got back from another quick jaunt over to New Orleans for two days of stellar food, shopping and all things beer-related that just aren’t available in our market. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again lest y’all forget: The Crescent City is a beer-lover’s Mecca. Even the divey-est of neighborhood taverns has hoppy selections from local breweries sharing tap space with the watery macro-mainstays.
The city’s best-overall destination for rare beer is the Avenue Pub on St. Charles. The downstairs is roomy and cozy with dark wood everywhere, high pub tables and a tap wall sporting the likes of Unibroue’s Ephemere Cassis, Christofell Noble Pilsner, Stone’s Sublimely Self-righteous Black IPA and an authentic German Berliner-weisse from 1809 (minus the sauce, of course). The bottle selection is a Belgian fan’s dream with both bombers and 750mL of gueze, lambic, sours and oude bruin. 5 of the 7 Trappist ales are represented here as well and with a very affordable price tag. Go upstairs and you’ll find a separate bar with its own unique selections on tap and a wrap-around balcony. Oh, and the food’s pretty dang good, too! The grilled sourdough with Drunken Goat, feta and cheddar proved to be a crispy and gooey cocoon for the smoked bacon and tomato with sage pesto smothered in between the layers.
It seems as if the theme for my short two days there was to get caught in the rain. Therefore, I spent an appreciable amount of time rather soggy once my destination had been reached. I don’t know how many of you have been to New Orleans but due to the saturating humidity on crawfish boil-temperature days every business open to the public has the a/c cranked down to a polar bear’s comfort zone. When you’re wet and cold in the summer you crave a rich beer with some warmth to it.
Should this happen to you closer to home, there are hard to come by options available. In addition to the 120 Minute IPA I wrote about last week, we’ve got Rogue Brewing XS Imperial Porter. The Rogue website doesn’t even list this beer as one of their current selections any longer. After I dug a little deeper I discovered that these are aged kegs from 2009! The extra two years of aging really boosts the robust gusto of this ultra-rich, almost jet-black porter. A mass of cocoa froth on top can’t hold back the big smells and flavors of coffee grounds, milk and bittersweet chocolate, a hint of licorice and dried dark fruits. Very mild Summit hops provide a hint of bitterness, the texture is creamy smooth and the 8.2%abv helps shake off a mid-summer rain chill.