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.

radicalryepa2

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.

IMG_0300

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.

IMG_0912

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.

IMG_0805

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.

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10 Responses to “Top 14 beers from Louisiana in 2014”

  1. Nora December 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM #

    I think it was too small a batch to qualify for this list (only 7 barrels distributed), but NOLA Brewing’s Sauvage 100% Brett Pale Ale was a winner for me for sure.

    • The Ale Runner December 19, 2014 at 4:02 PM #

      Yeah, it was tough to leave out some of the small batch stuff, but I wanted to include things that went out to a wider distribution. NOLA probably deserves to have some more things on this list, but it was tough to bump some of the others.

      • Chris Burkstaller December 20, 2014 at 10:19 AM #

        Brenton, what’s the best non hoppy, not to strong selection that is avaialble?

      • The Ale Runner December 22, 2014 at 11:10 AM #

        Chris,

        My suggestions for Louisiana brews that are not hoppy with a low ABV available in bottles/cans:

        Parish Canebrake or Southcoast
        NOLA Brown or Blonde
        Tin Roof Turnrow or Blonde
        Chafunkta Kingfish
        Bayou Teche Acadie
        Great Raft Southern Drawl or Reasonably Corrupt
        Gnarly Barley’s Catahoula Common is great, but draft only.

  2. Matt December 20, 2014 at 12:36 PM #

    Pretty nice list here. I would have included Abita’s Wrought Iron, NOLA Prytania Porter, Parish Imperial Stout & Great Raft’s Coffee Brown. 2015 is going to be huge, excited to try Courtyard Breweries ipas.

    • Matt December 20, 2014 at 12:38 PM #

      I’m dumb the parish stout at 3….the vanilla version was also outstanding.

    • The Ale Runner December 20, 2014 at 12:47 PM #

      Matt, Abita’s Wrought Iron was one of the last to miss out. It would have made a top 20 for sure. I haven’t gotten to try the NOLA Prytania Porter yet, which is a shame. I’m expecting greatness from Courtyard, so im excited about 2015 as well.

  3. James Dulaney December 21, 2014 at 10:26 PM #

    I wholeheartedly second your selection of Ghost in the Machine!

  4. MiChelle Smith December 29, 2014 at 6:45 PM #

    Hands down Born in A Barn from Great Raft!!!

    • The Ale Runner December 29, 2014 at 7:13 PM #

      That one would have been on my list MiChelle if it was available outside the brewery. I excluded beers that were brewery-only releases since many people haven’t been able to try them.

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