Since 2008, NOLA Brewing has been pushing the boundaries of local craft beer here in Louisiana. With brews such as Hurricane Saison (a farmhouse ale/saison), Irish Channel Stout (an American stout) and Smoky Mary (a rauchbier, or German-styled smoked beer), NOLA has venutred where other, more well known Louisiana craft breweries haven’t gone.
Enter the newest NOLA beer, Mechahopzilla, which is a west coast style imperial IPA. What does that mean? Well NOLA took a whole lot of malts, a whole lot of hops and made a beer that launches an assault on your palate from first sip. I was fortunate enough to be able to sample some (OK, lots) of it at the brewery recently and it was everything it was supposed to be. Mechahopzilla pours from the most badass tap handle ever, a dark coppery amber color and the nose is hoppy, just like a double IPA should be. The first sip is full of citrusy, piney hops that resonate on your tongue. Yet it is balanced with a big malt backbone and a hint of alcohol heat. The resinous hops stick around for a while, so your palate gets to keep enjoying them long after you’ve finished your sip. Overall, this is a wonderful imperial IPA, one that I will seek out as long as it’s available. It is only available on tap and the supply is a bit limited since this is a very expensive beer to produce. Mechahopzilla weighs in at 8.8% ABV, so this is no session beer. I was lucky enough to be able to fill a growler with it , so I’ll be enjoying it in the comfort of my home for the next day or two.
Interestingly, I also tried it at Avenue Pub in New Orleans, and the nose and initial hop bite was lacking when compared with the one I tried at the brewery. It was also served too cold, and I got more out of it as it warmed up a bit. It still had that resinous feel at the back end, where your tongue felt like it was covered in hops. But the hop aroma wasn’t there at first, though it did become more apparent as the beer warmed up a bit. I will be curious to try this in other places to see if this was an anomaly, or if something happened during storage at the distributor to take away from the beer. It’s an experiment that I will be happy to undertake so I can report the findings. The things I do for you people…
Anyway, get thee to your favorite draft house and give NOLA’s Mechahopzilla a try. This effort only cements NOLA’s place in my book as far and away the best craft brewery in the state of Louisiana. Everything they produce is a winner and it’s good to see them push the envelope yet again. There’s a reason that Stone Brewing chose to collaborate with NOLA last winter on Pour Me Something Mister, their imperial porter. That’s because NOLA makes really good and interesting beers. I keep hoping that other local breweries will see what NOLA is doing and kick their game up a notch or two to really help create a great Louisiana craft beer scene.