As challenging as finding a worthwhile cocktail was in New Orleans at a bar not named Cure of affiliated with Cure, finding a beer close to enjoyable was even more daunting. Every choice from Abita, the beloved Louisiana craft brewer, was an embarrassment except for the at least drinkable Restoration Pale Ale when on draft. The Bayou Tèche LA-31 Pale Ale had potential, though never was of a caliber worth seeking out.
Enjoying lunch at Cochon, the excellent pork-centric Warehouse district domain of Donald Link, the NOLA Brewing Co.’s Hopitoulas IPA finally struck a chord. A perfect west coast style, hop heavy without venturing towards imperial IPA territory, the Hopitoulas boasts a beautiful golden hue, crowned with a thicker than normal head. The start almost felt as if it was a stout. A terrific structure provides the base for pleasant forest notes, bright and citric heavy, without being too sweet or herbal in the least. At 6%, even a few of these can be enjoyed on a hut, humid Louisiana summer day, with a baseball game, or the excellent fried alligator at Cochon.
NOLA Brewing operates out of a warehouse on Tchoupitoulas (obviously the namesake for the IPA) west of Downtown along the Mississippi in an industrial area known as East Riverside. I can’t wait until Kirk Coco branches out and creates a brewpub, or at least a tasting room. The brews by brewmaster Melanie Knepp are on a different plane than anybody else in this city. The NOLA Blonde and Brown Ales came first, followed by the Hopitoulas IPA in the brewery portfolio. Intriguing special and seasonal brews such as the Flambeau Red, the Irish Channel Stout, and the Hurricane Saison are now being crafted by this very exciting, emerging young craft brewery. Don’t be surprised to see them at a boutique craft beer shop or bar near you soon.
The LA in NOLA? No, it’s not Louisiana. It’s lagers and ales! Of course you guessed that. At least I guessed the namesake for the excellent IPA correctly.