I fully intended on taking pictures at the WYES International Beer Tasting last night, but for whatever reason, I completely failed at that. May or may not have something to do with beer.
This was the 30th year that WYES held the international beer tasting event, and my first time attending. It was held at Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World, which is a pretty decent venue for this sort of thing. Outside of the venue, overlooking the Mississippi River, several local food trucks were parked outside which I thought to be a great addition to a beer tasting.
Now, typically, since we drink a lot of beer, most of the beers at these types of events are ones that we've had before. I'm a fan of breweries like Anchor and Brooklyn, but I can walk into any Rouse's and grab a six pack of their beers, so we tend to skip the tables of those types of breweries unless they have some new beer that was just released.
We target the local stuff -- the nano breweries that haven't yet opened or the newer micro-breweries. Luckily, the event had everything laid out pretty well -- the local stuff we wanted was all along the same wall and all the homebrew clubs were upstairs. The first brewery we hit was 40 Arpent, out of Arabi. I've heard good things about them, especially their Red Beans and Rice Ale. This is a pretty interesting concept of a red ale brewed with red beans and rice. I enjoyed it -- I could sit back and sip a few of these without consequence. The red bean flavor was present but was tough to pick out.
After 40 Arpent, we stopped by Gnarly Barley's table. We've had their stuff at New Orleans on Tap before, but I like to support the locals. I tried The Exchange Student, a Belgian-style Dubbel. This was absolutely delicious. I would gladly drink this any day of the week. It had a nice medium brown color and an aroma that screamed Belgian. The flavor was spot-on, too. I had to go back up to the table and tell them how good it was. This is one of two local(ish) breweries putting out a Belgian style with Lazy Magnolia releasing one a few weeks ago.
We then went to Cajun Fire. I'm pulling for Cajun Fire. I feel like, after talking to them at a couple of festivals, they have a true passion for brewing (not that the other breweries don't). They've got some interesting beers (their Pumpkin Spice last year at New Orleans on Tap was fantastic) including a Root Beer Ale which tastes like Root Beer, but drinks like an ale. I had the Acadiana Honey Ale and its flavor was good, and it had a nice color, but it seemed like their CO2 was a little off on the keg and it was a little flat which kind of hurt the experience. But I'm hopeful.
Our next stop was Mudbug Brewery. My favorite of there's has been their Cajun Stout, a stour brewed with cayenne pepper. The spicy back on it is really enjoyable. Their claim to fame, so to speak, is their King Cake Ale. Now, at past festivals, I've had this beer and wasn't overly impressed. It's an ale with some cinnamon added to it and they rim the glass with simple syrup and cinnamon and brown sugar. It's cute idea, but it feels gimmicky to me. At any rate, I told the guy at their table (Laith, I think he said) how I felt about it, but that I wanted to give it a second shot. I have to say that it's a really good beer that stands on its own, I feel like they could be successful with this beer without the rimming. Like, at a festival, I get it. It makes them stand out. At any rate, Mudbug is one of the up-and-coming breweries here that I'm keeping my eye on. A word to the wise, though -- if you egt the King Cake Ale at a festival or tasting, get it last. My cup smelled like cinnamon the whole night and messed up some other beers as a result.
We then hit Tu Lu Lu, another Louisiana up-start. They had a porter, and English ale, an IPA, and I want to say a heffe. Their porter is astounding. I found it to be one of the most accurate representations of a porter that I've had. It was carbonated well and wasn't too heavy, nor too thin. Truly impressed with it.
I had been waiting on being able to try Mississippi's Crooked Letter Brewing for a little while now, mostly because I love the name. I tried their Stabello, an Italian-style lager, mostly because not many people were showing off a lager, let alone an Italian one. It was good. It had a great flavor and was easy to drink. I didn't realize until later that they had a porter, but I never got the chance to go back and try it. The folks over there are really nice, too. Looking forward to more out fo them.
We then headed upstairs to sample some homebrews. We stopped at Bicycle Brew Club out of Baton Rouge. I had their 7 Ring Cream Ale that was really good. Smooth with a hint of sweetness. Also from Baton Rouge, we went to Brasseurs a la Maison where I tried Blaine Nauk's Slap Ya Mama Red, another red ale incorporating red beans, but with the addition of some spices. This was absolutely delicious. I would seek this one out if I could. It had a nice bit of spice, like hot sauce almost, but just a solid beer altogether. Continuing our trek through Baton Rouge homebrewers, we went to Redstick Brewmasters where I tried their Berry-licious Chocolate Stout brewed with raspberries. It was good, but not my favorite. Almost too much of a chocolate flavor. I did however enjoy their Cherry Popper Stout which was brewed with cherries. That was more subtle and drinkable.
Next to Redstick was George's Beer and Homebrewery. We had a couple of their beers at New Orleans on Tap and weren't let down yesterday either. The brewers are super nice and make some good beers. I tried the George's Happy Day which is brewed with Chamomile, vanilla, and agave, stuff you don't generally see in beers. It was really nice. It was interesting, but in a really good way. They said they'll have ten different brews for New Orleans on Tap this year.
The last stop was the Crescent City Homebrewers. I tried Perry Soniat's Waiting on a Friend IPA that had a great color and aroma, but I just couldn't get into the taste. It wasn't the abundance of hops as that's always welcomed, but something just didn't sit on my tongue properly. We also tried Marcel Charbonnet's Mothra IPA and this was quite good. It featured a few hops you don't always see like Riwaka and Motueka. And sticking with the IPAs, we tried Andrew Pollack's Uber IPA which was also really good. It was a great representation of a West Coast IPA and was pretty refreshing.
All-in-all, it was a fantastic event. However, I think if you're a seasoned beer festival goer and drinker, the idea of the Friday night event -- the private tasting -- seems like a better deal in that there's a lot of cask-conditioned beers, and some special brews that you can't get other times, even from known brewers like NOLA and Abita. That's not to discourage you though! We just drink a lot of beer, so finding new stuff was more difficult on Saturday. But no matter what, I'd greatly recommend checking either event out next year.