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Top 14 beers from Louisiana in 2014

19 Dec

2014 was a banner year for craft breweries in Louisiana. Not only did this year see the opening of more breweries, but the quality of the beer produced has really taken off. This time last year, I posted my Top 13 Louisiana beers of 2013, and now I’m returning with a top 14 from 2014. If you recall, I issued a challenge to Louisiana breweries to give us a kickass IPA. Well, we got it, and it tops the list.

Let me preface this by saying that in no way have I tried every beer from every Louisiana brewery. I haven’t been able to have much from Red River in Shreveport, 40 Arpent in Arabi, or Old Rail brewpub in Mandeville. In particular, I know Old Rail has put out an anniversary barleywine as well as a double IPA that I’ve heard good things about. I also excluded brewery only releases that were only available on tap, so the NOLA taproom offerings aren’t on this list either. They have some good barrel aged versions of their core lineup as well as some new sours. I also wanted to include the collaboration black IPA between Gnarly Barley and Chafunkta, called Black Tooth Grin, but decided against it since there was such a small amount produced (only 7 kegs). This one needs to be brewed again on a larger scale (hint, hint).

You’ll see this list is dominated by two breweries at the top. It’s hard to argue that they aren’t the top two breweries in the state, because they are both really putting out some great beer. Hopefully the 2015 list will be a bit more diverse. So there’s my challenge to the rest of the state’s breweries. And I still want a great IPA that I can pick up easily on the shelf every day of the year.

14. Gnarly Barley Korova Milk Porter – this one was introduced in October, and is really a well done style that few others have tried to pull off. You see some milk stouts here and there, but rarely do you see a milk porter. Korova is widely available around south Louisiana on tap at restaurants and bars.

Korova Milk Porter

Korova Milk Porter

13. NOLA Rebirth pale ale – Rebirth was introduced earlier this year on draft and cans followed during the summer. This pale ale was brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops and is a great offering for a hoppy, yet drinkable pale ale.

NOLA Rebirth

12. Bayou Teche Teche Hombres – Teche Hombres is a Belgian style wheat ale brewed with organic agave nectar, aged in French white wine barrels and finished with Spanish orange peel and Peruvian Aji Limon peppers. This was a really tasty concoction that I hope they brew again.

Bayou-Teche-Teche-Hombres

11. Gnarly Barley Radical Rye PA – Radical Rye is a tasty rye IPA that is one of Gnarly Barley’s flagship beers. It’s a highly drinkable IPA that’s got a nice hop punch up front, followed by a spicy rye finish. Available on tap only, it’s also widely available all over south Louisiana.

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10. Tin Roof Parade Ground – Parade Ground is a coffee porter that’s highly anticipated when it gets released in the late fall. It’s definitely my favorite beer from Tin Roof, and it features New Orleans Coffee Company’s mocha and French roast coffee and notes of hazelnut and vanilla. My hope is that one day it becomes a year round offering (again, hint, hint).

Tin Roof Parade Ground Coffee Porter

9. Parish Farmhouse IPA – this beer was on the 2013 list as well, but the latest release in November 2014 is the best iteration of it. Brewed and dry hopped with Chinook hops, this one really has a great aroma to go along with the saison yeast. It’s not as highly carbonated as previous batches, which actually makes it easier to pour. Give this one a try while it’s fresh.

Parish Farmhouse IPA

8. Abita Bourbon Street Stout – this beer made the top 2 for me in 2013, and it’s still fantastic despite slipping down the list. Bottles of this were released in October, and they can still be found on shelves if you look carefully. This imperial stout was aged in bourbon barrels and the lighter body for the style actually makes it easier to drink.

Abita Bourbon Street Stout

7. Great Raft At Arm’s Length – this India Pale Lager from Great Raft was fantastic. It truly should be higher on this list, but the competition is getting stiff. It features a very hoppy aroma and flavor to go along with a crisp lager finish.

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6. Bayou Teche Biere Noel – This is my favorite beer Bayou Teche has ever made. It’s an imperial porter aged and refermented in whiskey barrels with tart cherry juice. It’s got notes of chocolate, vanilla and oak to go with the cherry flavor. It’s really well done.

Bayou Teche Biere Noel

5. Great Raft Grace and Grit – this Double IPA from Great Raft was released over the summer, and was a very refined and drinkable version of the style. I was fortunate enough to get more than a case of it to share down in south Louisiana with friends who were impressed with it as well. I’m hopeful they’ll make it again next summer and have it available for us down in the southern part of the state.

Great Raft Grace & Grit

4. Parish Grand Reserve – this is the third year Parish has released their barleywine style cellared annual ale, and the 2014 release was the biggest yet. The brewery had a huge party in late November to help celebrate, and it was a “grand” success. The #1 beer on the 2013 list is still fantastic, and a joy to drink now or aged for years.

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3. Parish Imperial Reserve – Imperial Reserve is the second in Parish’s Reserve series, and is a huge imperial stout that is a dark beer lover’s dream. Notes of chocolate, coffee and dark fruits make this a decadent 12% ABV beer. It will be interesting to see how this ages, but it’s fantastic now.

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2. Great Raft All My Tomorrows – this was Great Raft’s first bomber release, and truthfully, it was my favorite. A hoppy saison, it was just so juicy and hoppy and a perfect summer beer. I’m really hoping they make more of this in 2015, because I enjoyed it to no end.

Great Raft All My Tomorrows

1. Parish Ghost in the Machine – finally we hit number one, and for anyone who knows me, this is no surprise. Ghost in the Machine was released on three different occasions in 2014, and it was fantastic each and every time. This truly is a world class double IPA that’s too hoppy for you. The aroma and flavor is just bursting with tropical and citrus hops, while boasting a clean finish that’s not too bitter. Hopefully 2015 sees more batches of Ghost, and I’ll be finishing out the last few bottles I have as this year comes to a close.

Parish Ghost

As you can see, 2014 was a hugely successful year for craft beer in Louisiana. The quality of beers being pumped out of the breweries in this state keeps increasing, and that makes me excited for what will be on the list in 2015.

What’s your favorite Louisiana beer? Tell me in the comments below.

Black Friday is Bourbon County Stout Release Day

25 Nov

Many Americans celebrate the day after Thanksgiving by heading out to stores at ungodly hours while fighting huge crowds to buy things a bit cheaper than they can get them on other days of the year. I will celebrate it differently, because Black Friday also happens to be release day for Goose Island’s celebrated Bourbon County Brand Stout. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not paying attention.

Bourbon County Stout is Goose Island’s annual imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels. It was the beer that made barrel aging stouts what it is today. The 2014 version weighs in at 13.8% ABV (down from 2013’s 14.9%) and will feature a black-as-night beer with notes of oak, vanilla, bourbon (duh!), and chocolate.

There are some other variants such as Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout and Bourbon County Brand Barleywine, as well as a Vanilla Rye and Proprietor’s Reserve. Right now, Louisiana will only see the stout, but don’t be surprised if some of the other variants pop up in the next several months.

Fortunately, the Baton Rouge area will be receiving far more bottles and draft in 2014 than they did in 2013, so there shouldn’t be quite the rush on this year’s release. And I imagine that also means that some bars and restaurants may be able to hold their kegs for a while and break them out months from now instead of the first week.

I highly recommend trying a bottle now, then stashing some more away for an extended cellaring. The best version of BCBS I ever had was a 2009 that had been aged four years. I’m holding some bottles from the last couple years releases to see how they age.

Avenue Pub in New Orleans will be tapping a keg of BCBS at midnight, so instead of waiting in line at Best Buy, go check the pub out instead.

Word is that Chimes East in Baton Rouge will be tapping a keg of BCBS on Friday, as well as The Londoner. I’m sure more will follow, and as I hear of events in Baton Rouge for Friday’s release, I’ll be sure to update this post.

BCBS

Parish Grand Reserve 2014

21 Nov

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Parish Brewing will release their annual barleywine, Grand Reserve, beginning Saturday at a huge brewery party. Tickets to Grand Reserve Day are sold out, so if you don’t have them already, you won’t be able to join in the fun. But never fear, bottles will hit store shelves next week and there should be some draft available at the usual places in and around south Louisiana.

So how is this year’s version? Amazing. It pours a deep ruby color with a nice head that fades quickly. The aroma is bready with a touch of hops. This beer drinks so smooth. It’s big, but not overpowering. There is a big malt profile with some hops and alcohol warmth. But it is such a smooth drinking beer, even at such a high ABV (it’s in the 11% range).

If you’re going to Grand Reserve Day, you’ll get to try this year’s vintage alongside the 2012 and 2013 vintages. And if you’re like me, you cellared some of the past two years bottles, for more at home research.

But don’t delay looking for this year’s release. If the last 2 years are any indication, these will sell out very quickly once they hit store shelves.

Big thanks to Parish founder and brewer, Andrew Godley, for this preview bottle.

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Parish Imperial Reserve Sneak Preview

14 Nov

Saturday, November 22nd is Parish Brewing’s Grand Reserve Day. In addition to their Grand Reserve barleywine, Parish will also have an imperial stout, Imperial Reserve, available for purchase in very limited quantities.

Founder and brewmaster, Andrew Godley, was kind enough to send me an advance preview bottle, and of course I opened it last night. Just as Grand Reserve, Imperial Reserve does not disappoint. At all. This bottle conditioned imperial stout weighs in at a hefty 12%, and a gentle pour leaves a beautiful black stout with a big dark tan head. It certainly looks the part.

The aroma has hints of chocolate and coffee malts as well as some dark fruit. The taste follows suit with dark chocolate and coffee flavors with some warming alcohol. It has a big, chewy mouthfeel, but it is neither cloyingly sweet, nor too dry.

This is certainly a wonderful beer from Parish, and I’m really looking forward to grabbing a couple bottles at Grand Reserve Day next weekend. You do not want to miss out on this one, so get your tickets now.

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Tin Roof’s Turnrow is going year round

12 Nov

Tin Roof released their newest fall seasonal, Turnrow Harvest Ale, in early September, and the response has been huge. So huge in fact, that today Tin Roof announced that Turnrow will join their other flagships in being produced year round.

Read the entire press release below:

TIN ROOF MAKES TURNROW CORIANDER ALE YEAR ROUND BEER

BATON ROUGE, LA – Tin Roof Brewing Company announces Turnrow Coriander Ale will join the year round line up.  Turnrow, an ale brewed with fresh ground coriander, was released in early September in cans and on draft to an overwhelming response.

“Turnrow is a great addition to our existing lineup of delicious year round beers,” co-founder William McGehee said.  “The combination of malts, hops, and coriander creates a crisp taste that allows this flagship to be enjoyed anytime of year.  The coriander provides just the right amount of citrus spice to balance this refreshing brew.”

The beer’s stats are: 20 IBU’s, 5.5% ABV, 2 Row and White Wheat malts, Magnum and Styrian Golding hops.

The recipe pays homage to the brewery’s close friend, Charlie Milan, a staple in the local homebrew scene.  “Charlie’s had this recipe for a while now and it’s always been a festival favorite,” Tom Daigrepont, Tin Roof’s brewmaster, said.  “This beer is the perfect fit for our year round lineup.”

Tin Roof Brewing Co. was founded in 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Tin Roof beers can be found throughout Louisiana and Mississippi in cans and on draft.  Tin Roof recently opened a tap room at the facility located at 1624 Wyoming St. in Baton Rouge.  For more information about our beers, brewery and tap room, please visit www.tinroofbeer.com, Facebook, or on twitter and Instragram at tinroofbeer.

Turnrow

Parish Grand Reserve Day is November 22nd

12 Nov

Parish Brewing will once again host an event to mark the release of Grand Reserve, their cellared annual ale, and this year’s party should be the best one yet. November 22nd will be Grand Reserve Day at the brewery, and there are a limited number of tickets left. For $25, you will get a commemorative tasting snifter, and ten 5-ounce pours of Grand Reserve (2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages), 2014 Imperial Reserve (a 12% imperial Stout), Milton Teagle Jr, Jr (a sour ale), the newest batch of Ghost in the Machine (Double IPA), as well as other surprises.

Bottles of 2014 Grand Reserve will be available for purchase, as well as a limited number of Imperial Reserve bottles.

The party starts at noon, but there will be no tickets sold at the door. Reserve your spot now by visiting the ticket link below:

Grand Reserve Day 2014

Grand Reserve Day

November 6th: International Stout Day

6 Nov

International Stout Day

If it seems like there’s a day celebrating everything, well it’s probably because there is. And today is the day for stouts to be in the spotlight. So, while I may be a huge IPA fan, stouts are right behind them for me, and I’ll be sure to join in the celebration.

You should do the same. Grab a pint of your favorite dark, roasty, malty, rich and delicious stout, and raise it high, for today we celebrate stouts.

What stout(s) will you be drinking today?

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