Craft beer is in, and Louisiana is hip to the trend. But don’t just take our word for it. As smaller beers continue to surge in popularity, 225 Dine asked a few local beer lovers and writers for their choices of the state’s best beers of the year. The panel included Brenton Day (writer, The Ale Runner), Eric Ducote (writer, The BR Beer Scene), Jay Ducote (food personality/writer, Bite and Booze) and Charles Pierce (Tin Roof tap room manager, musician). Below is the list in no order with comments from our crew. For those uninitiated, bring a notepad, because beer school 2014 is in session.
Tin Roof Parade Ground Coffee Porter. (Winter seasonal) “Tin Roof’s coffee porter is beloved by many around Baton Rouge,” Day says. “This year’s version has been the best iteration yet, with the coffee, vanilla and hazelnut flavors shining through in a very drinkable offering.”
Parish Brewing Ghost in the Machine. (American Double/Imperial IPA) “A world-class DIPA brewed in our backyard,” Eric Ducote says. “Each batch has been a little different, but they are all fantastic. I’m looking forward to this being even more available in 2015, as there should be 6 batches in the works.” Eric’s brother, Jay, says this brew has “surpassed Parish’s own Grand Reserve.” Pierce adds that this is Parish’s “best beer, hands down.”
Parish Brewing Grand Reserve. (Barleywine) The Broussard brewery’s well-sought-after barleywine tops Ducote’s list. This year’s batch was “the best yet,” he says.
Abita Bourbon Street Stout. (American Double/Imperial IPA) “An impressive offering by Abita,” Day says. Ducote adds that this is Abita’s best bottled effort yet with a “great bourbon character to balance out a sweet stout.”
Bayou Teche Biere Noel. (Winter seasonal) “Bayou Teche makes truly distinct beers that few others in Louisiana will attempt,” Day says. “Their Christmas offering is an imperial porter aged and refermented in whiskey barrels with tart cherry juice. This beer mimics the old Cajun drink, the Cherry Bounce, but with a chocolate character. It’s the best Bayou Teche beer I’ve had the opportunity to drink.”
Bayou Teche Teche Hombres. (Belgian style wheat ale) “Just like the Bayou Teche Biere Noel, there is a lot going on,” Ducote says. “This seems to be a calling card of Bayou Teche, and sometime it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This time, it definitely did.”
NOLA Brewing Irish Channel Stout. (American stout) “One of three go-to beers from NOLA,” Pierce says. The other two? Mechahopzilla and Hopitoulas.
Great Raft All My Tomorrows. (Saison/Farmhouse ale) “A perfect saision for my tastes, with the farmhouse funk and a good amount of fresh hops,” Ducote says. Also recommended from this Shreveport brewery: Southern Drawl pale lager and Grace and Grit Double IPA.
Gnarly Barley Korova Milk Porter. (Baltic oatmeal milk porter/seasonal) The Hammond brewery is “probably my favorite local brewery,” Pierce says. “That is, besides Tin Roof, of course.” Ducote adds that this, along with the Radical Rye IPA, is making the brewery one to watch in the future. “The guys and girls at Gnarly Barley are doing some solid work,” he says.
225 pick: Tin Roof Turnrow. This is my go-to beer. There are no frills, no long adjective phrases. Rather, Turnrow is a refreshing coriander ale that has just the right amount of zest, making Louisiana heat bearable, maybe even relaxing. I also couldn’t be happier that they decided to make it year-round.
What were your favorite Louisiana beers of 2014? Let us know in the comments below!