Last week, we dabbled with the stories of beer being brewed in our town, and referenced that New Orleans had been a center for such activity going back into the 18th and 19th centuries then slipped into insignificance.

This town never lost its taste for drinking beer but our reputation as the South’s beer-brewing center was gone with the demise of Regal, Jax, Falstaff, Dixie, Pelican, Weckerling, Lafayette, Crescent City, and Merz among others. What Prohibition did not shut down, the rise of national distribution by brands brewed far away completed the death knell.

Recently we have finally boarded the international craft beer movement and, while we were late, we now have a respectable representation once again. Abita Beer across the lake has not only become a local brand, but also has a national following. NOLA Brewing enjoys fine distribution in the region, as does Covington, Brieux Carre, Second Line, Urban South, Royal, and 40 Arpent.

There are several tap rooms in our midst, which do terrific work with beer but no outside distribution because of plant limitations and the limiting effects of archaic state laws. Crescent City and Gordon Biersch both produce award-winning beers, but you need to visit their single-location outposts to enjoy the wares.

What is most interesting is the beer-geek crowd. These focused aficionados of beer, mostly millennials, have complained to whomever will listen about the complicated topic of understanding wine and winemaking. Yet, they have embraced and promoted a dizzying array of beer styles, shouting the praises of each and participating in spirited (pun intended) discussions about the subtleties and values of each.

Asking for a brew in a bar is no longer an exercise of what size you want. You will have to possess some knowledge of stylistic differences and what seems right for you. While “the Champagne of Bottled Beer “made for great advertising copy, it never was a proper definition of a beer style.

A familiarization of Weisse, Lambic, Gueuze, Saison, Fruit, Pale Ale, Stout, Dortmunder, Pilsner, Sour, Doppelback, Belgian, IPA, Indian Stout, Special Bitter, and American Brown, all terms describing a whole vocabulary about brewing outcomes desired by the beer-geek crowd. A knowledge of brewing is necessary, or at the minimum, helpful, to receive something refreshing and pleasurable.

And once you buy an Erector set for a curious human, there is no end to what might be accomplished. To all of the modern brew masters, a craft beer rig is the modern equivalent of an Erector set.

There are some mad, mad brew masters out there who evidently have so many projects on their to-do lists that time is of the essence. They can’t waste time eating so they are combining breakfast and lunch into their brews.

Massachusetts’s Somerville Brewing has made beer from Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries cereal. Saturday Morning kids’ rituals may not be as far-fetched as they seem since grain is an important component in beer-making. The beer may not be to everyone’s liking but crack open a can and sit back to enjoy cartoons or, at the very least, videogames.

The gang at Richmond, Virginia’s Veil Brewing went just as nuts, but in another way. Their Fried Fried Chicken Chicken Beer, no idea why the redundancy, is made with real fried chicken and they thought it would not get the attention they wanted it to have, and, no doubt, so richly deserves.  No comment from Col. Sanders nor that spokeslady from Popeye’s. Two full trays of chicken tenders went into the vat. Pay no attention to that sheen on the top of the beer.

Then there’s the not so well-thought-out Shower Beer, a 10 percent alcohol by volume pale ale specifically designed for that Saturday night, before going out, shampoo and cleansing or Sunday morning, trying to snap back, cold dousing. In trying to find a unique niche for this product, and I think you will have to agree the brew crew did hit on it, the end-result came up short. Shower Beer is in a glass bottle and you know what happens mixing soap suds, water and glass. Hold on tight, please! 

 

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Read Happy Hour here on www.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/