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Aug 16, 201708:00 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Suds, Part 1

(Beer, to the uninformed)

Will Watt, Getty Images, 2012

It’s summer in New Orleans and that inevitably means hot weather, ridiculous humidity levels, and an eye towards the Tropics so we know when bad weather forms out there, suddenly moving with force in our direction.

 We all know there is not much we can do about any of those issues. But, hey, never hurts to stay informed.

This year has not been such a hot time as a wet time. The “Feels Like” temps have been at their usual levels, suited more for sun screen mixed with perspiration rolling into our eyes than Quarter jaunts for the sake of stretching the muscles. 

Summertime in this semi-tropical paradise is the time of year everyone everywhere associates with New Orleans. “You folks sure do have a lot of humidity. We are hot in (fill in the name of anyplace) but we don’t have the humidity.” Two issues there: 1) The difference between high heat levels and humidity is academic, at best. Hot is hot no matter how you achieve the end measurement; and 2) The place away from here noted in this discussion is usually besotted with humidity also. Other cities, overall, are just not associated with the meteorological condition.

No one in St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York or Philadelphia thinks their humidity is significant. Those places are also not as well air-conditioned as we are. The self-delusions of the human mind at work.

Anyway, we know a great way to cool down is with a truly cold, refreshing liquid, and the oldest alcoholic beverage known to mankind is beer. We humans discovered more than 6,000 years ago that fermenting grains, adding water, and flavoring the whole shebang with other biological additives, like hops, would create something very pleasant. Mankind proved itself that long ago to not be a complete waste of space.

Unfortunately, our ancestors could not enjoy their creation with the modern advantage of refrigeration. They never knew how much the cold added to the pleasure of the product. Their ingenuity did not extend to aluminum cans or ice. If only…..

New Orleans has always been sort of a beer town. At one time, a long time ago, before prohibition, this city had over 13 breweries. They are probably not as well-known in beer circles because unlike other beer-destination cities, New Orleans never had a Brewers’ Row. No single place defined the center of the local beer industry.

There had been small breweries built for local and family consumption since 1726, with the influx of the German population, but the first commercial brewery of note opened in 1852 and was headed by Swiss brothers, Louis and Samuel Fasnacht. It was located on what is today the site of the Cotton Mill Apartments on Poeyferre in the Warehouse District. It is pure coincidence that the family name, Fasnacht, is also the name of the most famous and raucous festival on the German calendar. Around here that celebration is known as Mardi Gras.

Today, with the advent of craft breweries, we are moving once again to recognition as a beer brewing area, but still don’t have a center point for the industry. Currently, breweries are in the Lower Garden District, the French Quarter, all over the surrounding areas including St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, western Mississippi, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and over to Cajun Country. Mid-City will soon have a commercial brewery also.

We all greeted the recent news that Mr. Tom Benson, owner of the Saints and the Pelicans, purchased the rights to make Dixie Beer. Although it is not likely to return to its former home on Tulane Avenue, just putting the manufacture of this iconic beer back into Orleans Parish is a terrific piece of news.

 

Next week, Suds, Part 2

In which we will pursue the modern complications of beer styles, odd manufacturing techniques and strange places where beer is being consumed. 

 

-30-

 

Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life," hosted by Tim every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Previously broadcast episodes are available for viewing at http://www.wlae.com/appetite-for-life/

 

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

about

In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.

 

Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.

 

Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.

 

Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.

 

They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.

 

Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.

 

Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

 

Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.

 

It’s a good gig. 

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