September Craft Beer Report – Zima, Gizmo Brew Works, Crying Eagle Brewing, Bayou Tech Brewing, NoLa Brewing, MIA Beer Company
Whether a brewery sends me a courtesy sample, I visit a brewery on a press trip, or I stop in a brewery because beer, I sample a lot of beer. Each month, I summarize my favorites in a craft beer report.
September was rad! Which is why my craft beer report starts out with a review of THE throwback to the 90s – Zima! After our little stumble down memory lane (most of which are understandably hazy), we visit a few beers I sampled in Lake Charles, Louisiana along with some others I tried on a last-minute trip to Florida for a family emergency.
Zima Malt Beverage (12 oz bottle, 5% ABV)
Where: Casa de Gourmand
Pairing: Memories of adolescence
Notes: The pour is crystal clear as promised with a beautiful medley of lemon and lime wafting from my glass as the ice crackles in a Rice Krispies’ “Snap, crackle, and pop.” As Zima’s sugary sweetness meets my lips, memories of underage drinking and bad decisions rush forth along with a slightly sinister smile. The bubbling carbonation tingles my tongue with a chemically laden, Sprite-like flavor that I’ve long been missing. Who am I kidding? This shit was terrible. Some memories aren’t worth reliving. Now, if only someone would bring back Tequiza…
Crying Eagle Brewing Black Rye IPA (Draught, 6.7% ABV, 85 IBUs)
Where: Crying Eagle Brewing in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Pairing: A serious case of heartburn
Notes: I heard both good and bad things about Crying Eagle Brewing prior to my visit. “It was started by a bunch of rich people that don’t like beer.” “Nothing will wow you.” “They brew solid beers.” Needless to say, I was wary yet optimistic. Naysayers be damned, I enjoyed everything I tried from Crying Eagle Brewing with the Black Rye IPA sitting at the stop of my tasting notes. This little number delivers complex notes of caramel and chocolate malts, floral and citrus hops, and a peppery, silky finish. A great example of Crying Eagle’s well executed beers.
Bayou Tech Brewing LA-31 Biere Pale (12 oz bottle, 5.7 ABV, 27 IBUs)
Where: Jack Daniel’s Bar and Grill at L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Pairing: The most amazing roasted oysters that were char-grilled and topped with a Cajun spiced butter
Notes: LA-31 Biere Pale is Bayou Tech Brewing’s attempt to design a beer meant to pair with local cuisines, be they Cajun or Creole. That’s a tall feat for a beer to be a match for everything from rich gumbos to fried oysters and spicy boudin. The biscuit malts and mild floral hops did however pair well with the sweet and briny roasted oysters. The thin mouthfeel and dancing carbonation washed away the hints of heat from the house made Cajun butter. I can also imagine this beer pairing well with an oyster po-boy.
NoLa Brewing Lemon Basil Wheat (Draught, 4.5% ABV, 12 IBUs)
Where: Botsky’s Premium Hot Dogs in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Pairing: Alligator sausage topped with Cajunkraut, Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and creole mustard
Notes: Y’all, it’s hot and humid in Louisiana. Hence, a lot of the beers do fall to the lighter side. I don’t think this says anything about the sophistication of the beer community in the Bayou State. A 7.5% ABV 90 IBU IPA just isn’t pleasant when you have major back sweat going on. NoLa Brewing’s Lemon Basil Wheat is a perfect example of an easy drinking, refreshing beer to sip on in the middle of a hot afternoon. It’s a light bodied wheat with delicate notes of lemon and basil that in many parts of the country would make a great summer beer, but in Louisiana it’s perfect year-round. It’s also a great food beer, washing the grilled alligator and spicy topping down nicely.
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Gizmo Brew Works Reunion Lavender Kolsch (Draught, 5.1% ABV)
Where: Beer bar where I work two nights a week.
Pairing: My shift beer on multiple occasions
Notes: This is one of my favorite beers to pour at work. The fragrant bouquet of lavender and honey brings a smile to my face every time. The lavender and honey notes carry over to the tongue along with some biscuity esters common to the Kolsch style. The mouthfeel is oddly creamy, which further blends the flavors together. Gizmo Brew Works Reunion Lavender Kolsch is refreshing beer for the warm autumn months in the South.
M.I.A. Beer Company MegaMix Pale Ale (12 oz can, 6% ABV, 50 IBU)
Where: World of Beer at Paddock Square in The Villages, Florida
Pairing: After dinner beers on a date night
Notes: MegaMix Pale Ale from M.I.A. Beer Company is a well-balanced beer with more of a caramel malt structure than I expected. The mix of Mosaic, Galacy, and Citra hops bring forth loads of citrus to the front end and a dry, dank finish to the back. A great beer for sitting on a patio and watching a bunch of old fogies getting their drink on.
What have you been sipping on lately? Tell us in the comments below!