Last week I “got” to spend some time in New Orleans for work. I was not looking forward to this trip and wasn’t disappointed by what I found. Customer service certainly doesn’t mean the same thing down there and since I don’t live in North Minneapolis it didn’t occur to me until I got there that going out after dark would not exactly be the best of plans. That being said I tried to make the best of it and that meant finding some good beer. What I found was Abita. Abita is brewed in Abita Springs, Louisiana (about an hour north of New Orleans) and according to their website they have 5 flagship beers, 5 seasonals and a select line that changes every few months. For the most part I was pleasantly surprised. The drafts I tried were Andygator (described by the server as a barleywine at 12%...I’d put it at 9% tops…very smooth and drinkable), Turbodog (a dark brown ale with a wonderfully caramel chocolate aroma and flavor) and Amber (a lager but still a nice beer). I also had bottled versions of Restoration Ale (a moderately hoppy pale ale that could be a session beer), Harvest (apparently brewed with Louisiana pecans but I wouldn’t have been able to pull that flavor out), Fall Fest (their version of Octoberfest) and Christmas Ale (a yearly changing recipe). The Restoration Ale was the only stand out of the bottled beers and the Amber seemed to be the most readily available.
Making my way back home on Sunday I had a bit of time in the Atlanta airport and somehow found myself sitting at the bar of Sweetwater Brewing. They had 4 of their 7 beers on tap so of course my first question was, “Do you have a sampler?” While the bartender didn’t answer my question she did proceed to pull out 4 small glasses and filled each about half full. I realized that although they didn’t officially have a sampler platter she understood customer service and did what she could to accommodate me (what a wonderful change of pace after New Orleans!). Their Blue, a light beer brewed with blueberries and coming in at 4.9% was surprisingly well done for a fruit beer. Next up was Hummer, a 5.4% Belgian white, followed by 420, a 5.4% West Coast Style Pale Ale and finally, their crowing glory (at least in my opinion) the simply stated IPA. This bad boy came in at 6.9% and is a must for hop heads! Without a second thought I ordered a pint of this and drank as much of it as I could before I had to head to my gate to finish my trip home. So the moral of this long story, boys and girls, is that if you should find yourself stuck in the South, try to find some Abita or Sweetwater to drown your sorrows in.