If you missed The Top of the Hops Beer Festival this weekend at the Cajundome Convention Center, I'm sorry for you. With literally hundreds of the best craft beers to sample, great entertainment, and local breweries and restaurants represented, it just goes to prove that craft beer is alive and well right here in Acadiana.
Two local breweries, several from the New Orleans area, and of course the biggest sponser of the event, Abita Brewing Company were on hand to showcase their great Louisiana inspired craft beer.
Parish Brewing presented several of their flagship beers as well as some unique beers for beer lovers to try. Andrew Godley, the brewmaster and owner of Parish Brewing, offered me a Black IPA tro try and I was thoroughly impressed. This is one of the newest styles sweeping the country and if you haven't tried one yet you don't know what you are missing. It's a cross between a Schwarzbier (German Black Beer) and an American style IPA (with northwest Cascade hops). He also had a nice beer which he ran through a "Randall" (a device which is filled with whole hops to infuse a beer inline with that in-your-face hop aroma so many of us love). Parish Brewing has quite a few locations in Acadiana where their beers are on tap. To find an establishment near you, click here.
Another local brewery (yes, Lafayette has some great local breweries) presenting their beer at the festival was Bayou Teche Brewing from Arnaudville, Louisiana. Karlos Knott and his crew have made a name for themselves by crafting some great beer to go with our local cuisine. I tried their Boucanèe, a really nice cherry-wood smoked wheat beer that would go wonderfully with any barbecue or how about a duck and andouille gumbo... Bayou Teche Brewing has several unique beers which you can get on tap or in the bottle locally. To find a Bayou Teche beer near you, click here to check out this really cool search app.
Several other local establishments have their own signature craft beers made at Heiner Brau Brewery in Covington. One is Burgersmith. Their Burgersmith Ale is a really nice Kolsh style beer (a clean crisp lawnmower beer) that you just have to try with one of their great hamburgers. This beer was one of my wife's favorites. Zea Rotisserie & Grill has offered four great beers on their menu for quite a while. All are made in Covington by Heiner Brau for Zea. Check out Zea's great food and try one of these great beers to complement the meal.
Jay Wilson and his crew can really put on a great event. On hand for the event was "Rick the Peanut Man" as my wife called him. He hand roasts peanuts in these really cool old-style roaster ovens for all the UL athletic events and many other events at the Canundome. Next time you see him, buy some of his great artisan-roasted peanuts and help support the local economy. There were also two bands on hand to entertain the craft beer enthusiasts while we wandered the event, tasting and enjoying the fine beer. If you get a chance next year, purchase a VIP ticket to get "red carpet" treatment while at the event. With the VIP ticket you can arrive an hour early to begin sampling before the crowds appear, you can eat some really great food prepared by Artisan Creative Catering, sample some "VIP Only" beers, or simply relax in the seating-area and rest-up for another round of craft beer sampling. All-in-all, it was a great event and I can't wait until next year rolls around so I can do it all over again.
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