Louisiana has had a silent renaissance bubbling down south and to see the oppressive ATC regime, it is a miracle of sorts. Let’s start by looking at a small slice of the type of bullshit Lersierna brewers have to adhere to:
There are two types of brewery licenses in the State of Louisiana:
Microbrewery license holders can only sell their beer at retail (through a pub) and can only produce 6% and below. Think Crescent City Brewhouse.
Beer Manufacturers are different, and they can produce beers of 6% and above. They can also sell at wholesale through a distributor, but they can only obtain a retail license to sell 10% of their production in their own taproom. Think Great Raft or Parish Brewing.
We are looking at the latter today, two valiant upstarts who despite administrative kicks to the dick, maintain strong ale based boners. So shit, let’s review them from best to shittiest, why not:
Alright, so a hoppy saison. We know it CAN be done well, Holy Mountain, Noble King from JK, and Dorothy from HF have demonstrated that. This is something that is definitely not that in any respect. All of the fun from the underlying base farmhouse strain gets strangled under oddly offputting rye spice and sticky waves of hamfisted Mosaic additions.
In 2012 Citra was the brewer panacea, more and more it’s a huge reliance on Mosaic and sometimes brewers still fuck that up and you get this arugula, kale, chard, shallot thing going on with the sweet ritz cracker underneath. Shit is not tasty.
Envie by Parish brewing is an APA that is pretttty OKAY but never treads into some genre defining Hoppy Birthday or Zombie Dust realm. It is content to his all of the expected benchmarks, never overstay its welcome, or command your attention away from the Saints in any meaningful way. The greatest problem is that this brewery is so skilled at brewing dialed in beer (discussed infra) that the additional of caramel malts to a clean simple beer is totally unnecessary. It has this long burnt sappy drag to it that feels out of place. I am sure this shit is probably cheap and available all over the place, and many an LSU Tiger has probably vomited this on the steps of AXO. For my applications, it remains “moderately tasty” and doesn’t bring my cones to oily completion.
Now we are getting somewhere, we aren’t QUITE there yet, but we are well on our way to greatness. First of all, a 7.3% DIPA seems like that dude with low body fat percentage who thinks he is huge bc vascularity and definition on a waify tiny frame. This is more single IPA than double and the malty caramel stickiness really weighs down the nimble dreams of what could have been. I love the carb and long alpha acid swallow to this beer and the sweetness is almost restrained because the hop profile delivers cut melon, pineapple, guava and cut lumber on the swallow. This is a solid extra and something anyone regional should seek out, a treat that is a cut above the standard IPA offering, but not quite in the realm of Kern/Trillium/Other Half/Tradehouse.
Alright things have gotten completely real in and around the field at this point: Ghost in the Machine is fucking amazing on almost every level. I didn’t want to believe the hype but this is an undeniable gem. It is intensely clean and refreshing despite the hefty abv, the malts are a flawless stage for the alpha acids to dance upon. It never has a saccharine heft and I could kill these back to back just chain comboing that soft orange julius meets green onion Simcoe type of swallow. I couldn’t tell you the hop blend used in this but the opener has such a pronounced grapefruit pith that it dries into an inimitable conifer complexity on the swallow that keeps the Cajun Country far from sober.
This is a beer you should actively trade for as it will probably stomp nearly anything local in your distro footprint and it is worth every fedex dollar to obtain.
SO WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN THAT? This. This beer is fucking astounding:
Great Raft Brewing, Old Mad Joy Baltic Porter aged in HEAVEN HILL Barrels. I know I know, who the fuck is Great Raft and why are you hyping a random beer that the cicerones on BA gave a “4.0” which is essentially a C minus in their esteemed metric.
Stay with me: this is everything that you crave from the BA Everetts of the world with the slick nimble mouthfeel, the substantial barrel character but never leaving a hefty wave of chocolate muck on the palate. The carb is microfine bubbles that crackle with a silky texture like sloe gin fizz caramel marshmallow edition. The barrel treatment is phenomenally executed and this is definitely a sleep gem that no one is ISO and delivers in a huge way. The taste compels waves of Whoppers and Skor bar but you dont need to sip, you can take a legitimate pull and let it hit your molars and occupy you gullet and allow it to sheet and breakdown the confectionary aspects because the body is thin enough that you never get pissed off.
This is very much akin to the awesome Framinghammer lineup and, coming in with no expectations, this was a stunner. I can already feel that dissent and hatemail now, but ZFG, ask your Louisiana dude to toss you one of these, unless they were apeshit limited? You won’t regret it.
So there we go, those raft riders living below sea level finally got their day in the sun and I didnt make a single 504, Abita, Cash Money, New Orleans Pelicans or No Limit Reference. PSHEW.