It seems like every food and beer blog has an annual “best of” post, and I’m here with another. In previous years, I’ve done a best Louisiana beers of the year, but I’m changing it up a tad this year. Instead of picking some of the same beers that are at or near the top of the list year after year, I’m naming a dozen of my favorite Louisiana beers that did not exist before 2016. Keep in mind that I wasn’t able to visit every brewery in the state or try some of the newer breweries that recently opened. There are a couple breweries that make fantastic stuff, but don’t or aren’t able to distribute beyond immediate area or even their own four walls (Courtyard, I’m looking at you…sorry I didn’t make it by this year).
So without further ado, I present my 12 favorite new Louisiana beers of 2016 (in no particular order).
Parish Opus Vert IPA – This single IPA was released as a brewery only beer back in May, and I immediately fell in love. It had a ton of Simcoe character, which is something that I love. There were a pair of subsequent batches distributed in July and October, and another is coming in early 2017.
Gnarly Barley Brightside IPA – this clean and juicy IPA brewed in Hammond made a big splash at the September brewery release, and it returned for an encore in late November. All the hops are added very late in the boil, whirlpool or at dry hopping. There’s literally no bitterness to be found here, just juicy goodness that makes this beer super crushable. Word on the street is that the next batch will be canned thanks the new canning line that’s coming in early 2017.
Great Raft Come What Mayhaw – this delicious golden sour ale was aged for 9 months in Pinot Noir barrels, then moved into an oak foeder for another 3 months where it aged on Louisiana mayhaws. Sound delicious? Trust me, it was. It was very limited and super hard to find, at least down here in south Louisiana.
Old Rail Coalescence IPA – This IPA took elements from several other Old Rail IPAs and blended them into a beautiful hoppy masterpiece. It had everything you want in an IPA: pine, citrus and tropical fruit, but the biggest star of the show was the Nelson Sauvin hops, which lended their trademark white grape notes to this smooth and clean IPA.
Parish Rêve Coffee Stout – What initially was an experiment from the Broussard brewery, turned into one of my absolute favorite beers of the year. Back in the spring, a 5 barrel batch of this was aged on beans from Rêve Coffee Roasters and it became an instant hit. It was brewed again in the summer, then released in bottles in November. It’s only available at the brewery as of now, but I suspect that may change going forward. This is a coffee lover’s dream.
Tin Roof Gose With The Flow – Last summer, I got into goses. Like, really got into goses. They are just perfect on a hot summer day, whether it be by the pool or after cutting the grass. Baton Rouge’s Tin Roof Brewing did a really nice job with their version of a gose. It wasn’t too sour or too salty, and it drank really easy. Hopefully it returns in 2017 (and I’m requesting that it be canned).
Great Raft Heaven Hill Barrel Aged Old Mad Joy – The Shreveport brewery returns with another superb offering. Old Mad Joy is an imperial Baltic porter, and this version was aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. This was a big chocolaty porter, and the barrel notes were perfectly balanced lending oak and vanilla to compliment the base beer. A rum barrel version was released late in the year, but I wasn’t able to try any…yet.
Parish Galaxy Double Dry Hopped Envie – Parish Envie is probably my favorite easy to find shelf beer in the state. It’s super hoppy, yet crushable with little to no bitterness. Parish took Envie and double dry hopped it with Galaxy hops. This took it to another level. Galaxy is one of my favorite hops, and I could just smell this beer all day long. It was glorious.
Old Rail Barrel Aged Anniversary Barleywine – I was able to try one of the first kegs of this beer back in October. After it was brewed, it was aged in Old Forester barrels for 6 months, then cellared for another 6-plus months. There’s so much going on in this beer, and it’s all delicious. There are notes of caramel, toffee and raisin, but also balanced by a plethora of hops which are still evident despite the age. The barrel character really makes this beer fantastic, but you have to be careful because it’s a big one.
Urban South Citralicious IPA – Urban South opened in the spring of 2016 in New Orleans, so all of their beers were new this year. They had some good ones that I enjoyed, like the Holy Roller IPA and Rectify coffee porter. But the brewery-only Citralicious IPA is the one that has me wanting more. They added freshly harvested wet Citra hops to this IPA, and it was, well, Citralicious! Some of my favorite beers are fresh/wet hopped IPAs, and being in Louisiana, far, far away from the hop growing regions of the northwest USA, we don’t get many in general, and this was the first from a Louisiana brewery as far as I know. Hopefully this returns in 2017.
Great Raft You, Me & Everyone We Know Batch 002 – Great Raft returns again with another delicious sour. The brewery took their hoppy saison, All My Tomorrows, and aged it in Chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces. Then they let it sit on 600 pounds of Louisiana peaches. This version was fantastic. I’m a big fan of peach beers in general, and the fact that it was a funky saison, really made it unique.
Parish Bloom IPA – Another Parish beer? You betcha. This IPA was hazy, juicy and everything that I love about hoppy beers. It may best be remembered for sparking some changes in the other hoppy beers that Parish brews. The yeast strain used in Bloom enhanced the hops in this beer, and it’s likely that several of the other hoppy beers they brew will use this strain going forward.
If you’re counting, that was 12 beers. So let’s make it a baker’s dozen, shall we? I’m including one other non-Louisiana beer below. Why? Because it’s my blog, and I can. And this brewery is literally just across the Mississippi River from Louisiana and less than a two hour drive from my house. And they will be expanding in 2017, which will also include Louisiana distribution.
Natchez Brewing Southern Grace Dry Hopped Berliner Weisse – I was able to visit the brewery back in March, and this was my favorite beer. Southern Grace is a Berliner Weisse style beer that’s very light and tart. It’s dry hopped with Galaxy hops, which lends a passion fruit aroma to it. This one is really refreshing and a perfect summer beer. I’m excited to have their beers here next year.
Cheers to a great year for beer in Louisiana in 2016. Here’s hoping for even more great ones in 2017!