Aug 27, 2013

A brief pit stop at the Abita Brew Pub

I’d be lying if I said I drove straight back to New Orleans from my childhood home of Angie, La.  And to be fair, unless you plan on going back across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, there is no “straight shot” south into town.  Truthfully, I had one more pilgrimage to make – back to a wonderful place I had not been in more than a dozen years – Abita Springs, home of Abita Beer.

I can’t think of a prettier town than Abita Springs, La.  As the name suggests, the town owes its existence to the artesian springs nearby, which have been used for medicinal purposes since the Choctaw Indians first inhabited the area.  Since 1986, that water has been used to make Abita Beer, and it may be the primary reason why their beers (no matter which brew you try) taste just a little bit better than most others.   

The town is nestled solidly among the Louisiana pines, cypress and weeping willow trees, which sometime provide a natural canopy over the state highways coming into town.  They crisscross at one of the only roundabouts I know to exist in the state, and around this town center is where you’ll find a park, folk art museum, playground and several small shops and galleries catering to the locals and tourists alike.  The Tammany Trace, a scenic bike trail that runs more than 30 miles from Covington to Slidell along the north side of the lake, also winds through the center of town. 

And just to the west of the roundabout is where you’ll find a little slice of beer lover’s heaven – the Abita Brew Pub. 

Abita Brew Pub is actually the original site of the brewery, but an explosion of success in their first eight years of existence forced the Abita Beer makers to build a much larger brewery and bottling facility on the western edge of town.  They have tours and a tasting room there, too, but I still prefer to go the brew pub, which is now a full-service bar and restaurant featuring more varieties of Abita on tap than you can imagine.  

So, after a long afternoon driving up and down my old stomping grounds, I coaxed the Young Curmudgeon to stop in, enjoy the air conditioning and help me sip a few samples of Abita brews that aren't commonly available.  On a late Tuesday afternoon, even though we had plenty of the seating options, it still made sense to take a post on the side of the cypress and slate bar that greets you when you walk in. 

I wish I could figure out Instagram ... so many of my pictures are fuzzy like this.  And no, don't blame the beer.  I just had five samples. 

Not much excitement for a Tuesday afternoon, but perfect for a relaxing pit stop.
Abita’s beer menu typically offers two samplers if you can’t decide what to drink, or if you only have a limited amount of time like we did.  The regular sampler, frankly, features most varieties you’d be familiar with – e.g., the Purple Haze, Amber, Turbodog, Light … they might mix it up a little, but you get the idea. 

Instead, I tried the premium sampler that included the Jockamo IPA (I bit the bullet on that one, knowing it wasn’t y favorite), the Andygator, the Abbey Ale, and (if memory serves me correctly) the Pecan Harvest seasonal which was just becoming available.  My taste buds tell me it’s either a good year for Pecan Harvest or I like it better than I used to.  The fifth beer in the sampler was a “select” beer only available on tap at limited locations.  I was very happy with the choice:  the Strawgator.  Think a combination of Andy Gator and Strawberry Harvest – yummy, bold, light, slightly fruity and potent all at the same time.    

And although we didn't eat, the food looked outstanding, and the menu offered a solid variety of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, pasta dishes and entrees – most with an Abita “twist.”  Personally, I’d like to make a return trip not just for the beer but also to try the boudin-stuffed quail.    

In fact, I’d recommend any beer lover travelling to New Orleans go to Abita Springs to check out the beautiful town, its shops and either the Brew Pub or brewery itself.  Non-beer lovers will probably be pretty happy, too.  It’s a nice day’s diversion from the city.  

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