By Ryan Phillips

 

Mardi Gras season is here again, and whether you are enjoying a hand-grenade in The French Quarter or eating jambalaya on the banks of the Black Warrior River, the holiday spirit is sure to find you thirsty and looking for refreshment. For many during Mardi Gras, beer is just as important as catching a strand of plastic beads from a stranger on a float or witnessing various colorful scenes on double-decker balconies.

A multitude of rich beer hails from the Big Easy, and many fit the festive occasion in theme and taste. Like the food of this historically and culturally rich hub, the beer of this city is in a class of its own. While you may not have the money to make it to Bourbon Street or ride a steamboat on the Mississippi River, you can have a bit of its spirit in a glass bottle or on draft at one properly placed location.

New Orleans Lager & Ale Brewing Company, located on historic Tchoupitoulas Street, is a necessary stop for anyone visiting New Orleans. In a city of a million drinks, this beer can be found at a central Mardi Gras location, perfect for a quick tourist stop. The beer is a tasteful representation of the city and is well worth the time of any craft beer enthusiast.

The crown jewel of the NOLA Brewing Co. is the Blonde Ale. Sporting a light amber hue, and an uncharacteristically thick head, this beer is pleasing even to the casual beer drinker. However, compared to other Blonde Ale’s, it rests fairly heavy after a glass and the citrus hint is quite sharp after a couple. While many would enjoy an orange slice in this type of beer, the citrus is already provided, which may appeal to some and may turn others away—take your pick. I choose my orange slice, but for the taste, the Blonde Ale is delicious without a fruit compliment.

Naturally, you would pair this treat with spicy Cajun dishes to commemorate a southern tradition. Crawfish pair well with the light nature of this Blonde Ale. This refreshing quality also works great to fight off the sweats induced by creole seasoning and is a solid warm weather beer. The Blonde Ale’s reputation speaks for itself and leads well into the heavier beers.

The NOLA Brown Ale is a heavier alternative to the Blonde that is a dark English ale. Flavors of coffee, caramel and chocolate works to bring this particular brew to life that also works well as a dessert beer. While sweet, the bitter undertones balance the taste and control the rich quality that often bogs brown ale drinkers down.

A characteristically thick head that leads to a lush first splash of flavor that is savory like a moon pie tops off the Brown Ale. The finish is smooth and makes for a very drinkable beer—meaning six packs will not fill you up.

As a personal suggestion, try pairing this beer with crispy fish or blackened shrimp to fully highlight the malty sweetness. Po Boys, complete with fresh lettuce and shrimp, also make for a fine companion for such a tasteful brew. With a beer this sweet, it is hard to miss on a pairing, so long as the food does not consist of chocolate.

NOLA Brewing Co. also offers a wide range of other beers at their central location and around New Orleans and the surrounding region.

When all is said and done, many people will not care what they are drinking at 2 a.m. in the French Quarter, but if you get the itch for something special to taste what the city has to offer, you might find it on Tchoupitoulas Street454-BEER2

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