There’s nothing that says “spring” to me more than the sight of my fingers, orange and greasy with crawfish fat, wrapped around a cold, sweaty bottle of Abita Strawberry Harvest. Likewise, there’s nothing that says “fall” to me more than drinking a few beers with some jambalaya while watching a Saints game.

Beer is indeed a versatile beverage, and it’s also one of the world’s oldest; earlier incarnations contained fruit, honey and spices but not hops.
The U.S. is the leading beer importer, but with so many great local breweries here in Louisiana, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would need to drink imported beer when they could drink Abita Amber or NOLA Brewing’s cleverly named Hopitoulas. In fact, many people are keeping it even more local these days; home-brewing is on the rise, with folks crafting their own special blends.

Although no one wants to end up with a beer belly, moderate beer consumption has the same health benefits as other moderate alcohol consumption. And if you can’t think of beer as a sophisticated drink, if you can’t drink it without thinking of frat boys doing keg stands, playing beer pong or crushing empty cans on their foreheads, consider this: As the interest in craft beers has been increasing, beer dinners, in which beers are carefully paired with each course, have become more popular, and some restaurants now employ beer sommeliers, also known as cicerones, to help customers make informed choices about which beers would go best with their meals.

So whether you’re frequenting the biergarten at Oktoberfest or just sipping some suds with your friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon, don’t forget to savor every last drop.