This past weekend my boyfriend, Chris, and I went to Missouri to visit my family for my dad's birthday and Father's Day, which often fall on the same weekend. I have also been a little homesick recently so it was nice to have a quick trip home to see my family.
There are certain parts of Missouri and the Midwest that I miss, and a lot of it falls under the food and drink category. Yes, New Orleans has a world-famous food scene and I have really enjoyed it, but there are parts of the Midwest culinary experience I was excited to reunite with. The Midwest is home to frozen custard, delicious barbecue and my favorite breakfast place in the world, Ernie's.
And then there's the beer scene. My parents live in Columbia, Mo. – where my family moved when I was 11 – and it's home to two great breweries, Flat Branch Pub & Brewing and Broadway Brewery. Missouri as a state is also known as a beer hub, with Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City and Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis.
My brother, Tyler, came into town for the weekend, too, so Chris and I joined Tyler for a drink at Broadway Brewery on Sunday night. We sat at the bar and perused the beer menu as the bartender told us about all the beers they had made on-site and what we should try. We ordered pints of the brewery's beer, but then a bottle of beer caught my eye. When I turned my glance towards the cooler behind the bar, I saw it: Abita Purple Haze.
“Chris, look!” I said. “Abita!!”
Why was a Louisiana beer in a Missouri brewery? Chris and I called the bartender over and asked him about it. “You have Abita!” we exclaimed. He seemed to be a little weirded out by our excitement, so we explained why we were so happy. “We used to live here, but then we moved to New Orleans,” we told him. “We drink Abita all the time!”
He seemed moderately interested, so we asked him if it's been selling well. “Ommm, well, not really,” he said. He added that he recommends the beer to customers – “mostly women” – who are looking for something less hoppy than what the brewery makes.
We told him about our love for Abita Amber and Abita Strawberry and recommended that he get some Abita Amber because that's what everyone in New Orleans drinks. He humored us, but obviously we are not beer aficionados and he clearly knew a lot more about beer than we did.
I was still really happy to see Abita in that Missouri cooler. While I was glad to be home in the Midwest, I was happy to see something from my new home of Louisiana.
It was almost like a symbol of my new life. Sometimes I feel a little out of place in New Orleans. While I've lived here for almost a year, I still don't feel like a true local, though I am getting there. Just like the Abita beer that stuck out in the cooler, there's some adjustment to getting used to a new home. Abita seems to be trying out a new place (my mom said she saw people handing out Abita koozies in a Missouri grocery store recently) so Abita is clearly trying to get some fans in the Midwest market. I hope the Midwest expansion goes well because just like New Orleanians, Midwesterners really like supporting local businesses, especially beer. However, I hope Midwesternerners give Abita a chance, just like I'm giving New Orleans a chance. While it's nice to enjoy the familiarities of home, sometimes it's nice to try something out of your comfort zone, whether it's a whole new city or just a bottle of beer.
So cheers to Abita in Missouri! While I still miss the Midwest, it's nice to know pieces of my new home are coexisiting with the old.