Beer: Purple Haze
Brewery: Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs, Louisiana
|A bottle of Purple Haze. Abita also packages their beer in cans, which is smart: the French Quarter has no open container laws as long as you're not carrying glass. So bottoms up, Bourbon Street!|
Other than Texas, Louisiana is the only southern state that is home to a craft brewery that distributes nationally. The Abita Brewing Company has been churning out scrumptious suds since 1986, which is ancient in the world of craft brewing. This makes some sense: while most of Louisiana has a conservative streak, New Orleans, with its jazz, boobs, beads, and lack of open container laws, is just across the shallow waters of Lake Pontchartrain from Abita Springs, where the brewery is located. If you ask me, making beer less than 50 miles from the party capital of the United States is a solid business plan. (And don’t tell me it’s Vegas, or wherever you went to college, because you are wrong: it’s New Orleans).
|The same state, but worlds apart.|
The beer I tried here is called Purple Haze. While Abita makes a variety of regular craft beer styles (pale ales, IPAs, etc), Purple Haze belies the macho, overhopped bitterness that seems to pervade craft beer culture. Let me cut to the chase: the stuff is made with raspberries. Sure, maybe some of the girlishness associated with raspberries is mitigated by naming the beer after one of the best rock songs ever, but seriously: raspberries. I’d had Purple Haze many times in the past, but not in several years, and I was afraid to try it again because frankly I thought it would be terrible now that my tastes have evolved. But, I chose it over Abita’s other offerings because it’s different, and I thought it would be more interesting to write about, even if I was making fun of it.
|Bottle cap! Considering the stuff is made in Abita Springs, they better be using spring water. It sure beats whatever's running down the gutters in New Orleans on Ash Wednesday.|
But check this: I still really like the stuff. It’s a lager, but a full bodied one, and the raspberries give it a nice tartness, rather than an obnoxious sweetness. Think of eating actual raspberries, as opposed to some candy that turns your tongue blue. If you have a friend who dislikes beer and only drinks Smirnoff Ice or other such liquid abominations, have them try Purple Haze. They might like it, and you probably will too.
|Seriously, why call it a malt beverage? It's beer! Are they obliged to label it as such because it has fruit in it?|
Finally, let’s drink to Louisiana as they clean up after yet another hurricane. This time it was called Isaac, and it missed the world’s most oppressive party (the Republican National Convention in Tampa) and instead went straight for the world’s most liberating one (every single night on Bourbon Street). Fortunately Isaac was weaker than Katrina, and a lot of levees and floodwalls have been rebuilt or improved since 2005, so the damage was minimal in New Orleans, but it was still devastating in some places.