Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Louisiana Winter Beer Fest

Bob and I aren't super big beer drinkers, but we enjoy a good brew now and then. We like to try new beers and find new favorites. I have a very narrow range of beers I appreciate, so it's especially exciting for me to find one I like a lot. When we heard about the first ever Louisiana Winter Beer Fest, I promptly bought tickets. And good thing I did. They sold out 700 tickets in no time. Proceeds benefit the Lake Charles Symphony, so it's for a great cause!

Bob and I know the event organizer, Nick Villaume. Even the day of the event, he was putting out a call for more volunteers to help out. Bob and I said sure, why not. Could be fun. So we were the “pourers” for Bayou Teche Brewery. Our new friend Karlos brought three of their several brews; a belgian pale ale he says is their number one seller, a "noire" or black beer, and a french farm style beer called Acadie. The Acadie was the most popular one we poured. Everyone seemed to like it. Maybe, I think, because I told everyone it was my favorite.

After our volunteer shift was over, Bob and I made our rounds to all the tents. Twenty-three craft breweries from Louisiana and around the country and a couple from Europe were present, offering a total of 71 different beers. IPAs were very popular. Good for Bob (who prefers IPAs), not so good for me. I don't like the "hoppy" beers. Chocolate and coffee stouts were also well represented. While the concept thrills me, I found most of them to be too bitter for my tastes. I was disappointed that no one offered a ginger beer. I love ginger beer.

So, after tasting A LOT of beers, I narrowed down my favorites. I liked NOLA Brown Ale and Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar. But my very favorite was Sierra Blanca Alien Amber Ale. I could have stood in front of that table and just had the guy refill my glass over and over. Actually, I did that for a bit.

In addition to all those beers for the "regular" ticket holders, there was a VIP area with sixteen more craft brews and home brews offered. I didn't have one of those tickets.

There were several super food vendors at the event. My new Jamaican friends from TasteRite were there. (Look for them in a new post soon.) We had a fantastic pulled pork and slaw sandwich and bread pudding with blackberry sauce from Luna's and some boudin balls from Pujo St. Cafe.

There were two bands who entertained fest-goers. Bob and I especially enjoy the first band, Beau G's Band of Ojin. I wanted to buy a CD, but when we talked to one of the bandmates, we discovered they'd only been together a couple weeks and had no CDs.

One of the perks of volunteering is the privilege to attend the volunteer after party. Well, after a couple hours of sampling, the crowds and noise, not to mention the alcohol, were getting to me. We didn't stick around till the very end. Maybe next year . . . 

Great job, Nick!

So, what's your favorite beer?

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