In my last post, I noted that NOLA is not particularly known for its beer bars. There are a handful of decent beer bars and only one or two that have noteworthy beer lists.
The poses a predicament for the local beer geeks. Frequenting the same bars over and over can get rather old fast. Especially, when your palate craves something off the beaten path (like unique, crazy cult beers).
So what does one do in such a situation?
Well, one could always build a huge L shaped bar with 6 taps attached to a lounge with a new age jukebox in one’s own home. And that is exactly what the Vice President of NOLA Brewing Co. — Dylan Lintern — has done.
At first, I didn’t really understand what he meant when he said he had a bar in his house. After all, many people have small personal bars in their homes. No big deal, right? Little did I know that his bar rivals some of the best hole-in-the-wall bars that I’ve ever been to — size wise. And beer wise? It f*cking blew my mind.
Technically, the best beer bar in NOLA is not a public bar.
I met Dylan along with most of his brew team from NOLA Brewing Co. at The Avenue Pub. Upon discovering each others inner beer geeks, we immediately jumped into a serious beer conversation that involved lots of “name dropping” and random banter. I told him about some of the beers in my collection that I was traveling across country with and he mentioned a few from his personal stash. We made plans to meet-up the following night to taste through some of our collections.
The same evening I met Dylan, I also befriended another local NOLA beer enthusiast named Matt Austin. Matt had just recently returned from a beer themed road trip up in the North East. Naturally, I invited him to join the “potluck” beer tasting with Dylan and myself.
Before meeting up at Chez Dylan, Matt took Shana and I on a little tour of the French Quarter where we partook in many of the typical French Quarter tourist activities. We had cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe Du Monde, ate some authentic creole cuisine & gumbo at the Gumbo Shop, stopped by Pat O’Briens and Preservation Hall, walked around Jackson Square and up and down Bourbon St.
Personally, my French Quarter highlights included getting my palm read and fortune told in a voodoo shop, buying the coolest pirate hat in the world in a Vampyre shop and seeing Ken dolls dressed up in drag at the Gay Heritage Tourism Bureau. Good times.
After a few hours of sweating through the French Quarter, we were obviously thirsty. Since nothing beats the heat like some frosty beers, Matt and I each packed up a few beers from our collections and headed on over to Dylan’s place in Uptown NOLA.
Words can not describe the scene we walked into there. Empty beer bottles lined the entire wall and filled up each and every shelf. The collection was Cique Du Soliel impressive — my jaw almost locked from being dropped so long. Equally impressive was Dylan’s ability to remember each and every story about all of the beers he had drank.
In addition to Dylan, Matt and myself — we were also joined by Dylan’s older brother Derek as well as 3 other friends.
The tasting started out with Cigar City Brewing Co. Guava Grove — a Belgian Saison-style ale that encounters secondary fermentation with as well as extended aging on Guava puree. Cigar City is based out of Tampa, FL with limited distribution throughout the state of Florida. They have developed quite a cult following amongst us whom have had the opportunity to taste their beers. I was lucky enough to attend one of their events while living in Tampa.
Although Guava Grove is a Belgian farmhouse style ale, the Belgian yeast aroma and taste was virtually undetectable. Without knowing what it was, one would never venture to guess it was a Saison-style. Nevertheless, Guava Grove is a DAMN tasty beer — nice and sour (just the way The Wench likes it), medium-bodied and very refreshing.
Much to my surprise and utter delight, Dylan pulled out Russian River Brewing Co.’s Pliny the Elder next. Pliny the Elder is considered by many to be a “cult beer.” It received the Gold Medal in the Double IPA Category at the 2006 World Beer Cup as well as the Gold Medal at the 2005 GABF. According to Dylan, Pliny the E is one of the most balanced beers in the world. And I cannot argue against that statement. The aroma hops were beautifully potent. I want to make an entire line of bath products with that aroma. Heck, I want to fill up a bath tub with that beer and bathe myself in it.
Other beers in the lineup included: Avery Brewing Co. SIXTEEN Saison (a highlight of the evening), Magic Hat Brewing Co. Wacko and Lucky Cat IPA, Erie Brewing Co. Railbender Ale, Thomas Creek Red Ale, Pike Brewing Co. IPA, Piraat, Founders Centennial IPA, Jolly Pumpkin Oro De Calabaza (a favorite of mine), Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery Milk Stout, Lost Coast Brewery Raspberry Brown and Boulder Brewing Co. Mojo Risin’ and maybe a few others that have escaped me.
In addition to Guava Grove, I brought the first beer from the Cigar City Brewing Humidor Series — the cedar-aged Jai Alai IPA. Cigar City uses 6 different hop varietals, with Simcoe hops only being used for dry hopping. The Simcoe aroma was definitely sexy, yet not as seductive as Pliny the Elder (which I nursed for quite some time). The cedar added an interesting dimension — which was well recieved.
I also brought Fantome Hiver — a seasonal winter ale from Belgium. It was surprisingly sour and one of my favorites of the entire evening. The most dissappointing beer of the evening was Mikkeller It’s Alive — a very limited (brewed only once) Belgian Strong Ale that was supossedly crafted with wild yeast. My particular beer might have gone bad (doubtful), but regardless — it was tasted and then left unfinished.
Although Pliny the Elder was a highlight of the evening, there were two other beers that took the cake.
One was HaandBryggeriet Haanbakk. This particular beer is the first one of its kind from HaandBryggeriet. And not just that, it is also the first sour beer using wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria in Norway in over a hundred years. Ryan busted this out from his collection, but I must admit that I also have it in mine. This beer was brewed in September of 2006 and has been aged in oak barrels until its bottling day on March 22, 2008.
HaandBakk was phenomenal. Absolutely out of this world. It was sour, yeasty,sweet and fruity. It was medium-bodied, well-carbonated and had notes of wood, sour cherries, apple cider and balsamic vinegar. It a word — Haanbakk was SULTRY. And with an ABV of 8%, that little tiger will creep up on you. But damn, she tastes soooo good.
Naturally, being the wenchalicious Wench that I am, I had to whip out a gueuze on the boys. If you read my blog religiously (ahem, hint hint), then you are probably aware of my preoccupation with THE GUEUZE. I am what one may consider a gueuze evangelist. I love to bring it to parties. Unfortunately, it rarely ever recieves the royal reception that it deserves. Normal people, don’t like gueuze. True story.
BUT, there are those of us who can appreciate the complete an utter insanity and chaotic method of spontaneous fermentation. These beers are not for everyone — agreed. Yet, I cannot deny my obsession with the style. Gueuze is my quintessential celebration beer — my Champagne.
For this occasion, I brought out the very lovely 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze. And it was ridiculously amazing (yes, I know I need more adjectives in my vocabulary). It had the typical barnyard, sweaty saddle, funky nose that you except in a gueuze. And the taste? Uber funky, very tart with a slight bitterness. Man … I don’t know what it is about this style, but I’m hooked.
And although the majority of people in the room frowned upon the gueuze and gladly let me finish off their pour, I was able to convert one beer geek into the dark world of lambics.
Overall, the night was one of my most memorable beer experiences. There is nothing better than enjoying super sexy beers with fellow beer enthusiasts.
NEXT STOP –> Austin, TX. Stay tuned.