Don?t Forget Your Roots ? by James Vilade

As a craft beer sales rep, but more importantly a craft beer fan in New Jersey, I am inundated with new breweries, styles, and most of all, seasonal beers. This is pretty awesome, admittedly, but as many of you probably know, it is very easy to forget your roots. This weekend though, Rob, Patrick and I will be drinking nothing but
delicious Abita beers…and maybe a few shots.

We are in town for Abita’s annual distributors party and within seconds of walking off the plane we are enjoying cold draft Abita. I myself tend to stick to IPAs and stouts, but was very much looking forward to drinking something different. I order a tall Purple Haze and immediately remember what I love about this beer. It was easy drinking, clean tasting and I wanted another before I was finished. We got a cab instead, because we were still in the airport….

Bourbon Street is what most imagine when they think of New Orleans. We were sitting on the main nerve of Bourbon and Canal Street….with our fingers on the pulse, so to speak. Not a bad home base. It was six months until Mardi Gras but people were drinking, yelling, flashing and throwing beads like it was Fat Tuesday. The thing I noticed the most though were the Abita neons in every bar and store we passed, even on the drive from the airport. There were bottles in every convenience store and draft lines in every bar. Every place we went into had Abita. It was great.

We pick up a few sixes of Purple Haze and Jockamo IPA in the lobby and settle in. About an hour later we head out to a party that Abita set up for 150+ reps from around the country. In each room you could find a full Cajun spread and several styles of Abita on tap. We drank every one, including an Abbey that was very good. Most of the party was spent on the deck overlooking Bourbon Street and later on we ventured to a local club with more great beer and music.

The next morning we all climbed onto buses, crossed Lake Pontchartrain, and headed out to the brewery in Abita Springs. Once again, we were greeted with literally boat loads of awesome Cajun food and some of the best BBQ I will ever taste. Inside is an up-to-date and very efficient brewery, complete with a tasting room with more beers on tap than I even knew existed from these guys. Each one was a good as the last, but most of all they were all session-able beers. We spent the afternoon enjoying each and every one.

Later we headed back to the city for our second and final night in New Orleans. We mostly just wandered around, checking out the galleries and amazing street musicians and stopping every twenty minutes or so for a fresh draft.

So, whats the point? Well, I guess theres a few. Number one, it was encouraging to see craft beer so well represented in a town where everyone seems to have a 22oz can of some macro-brew in their hand. Number two, Abita is awesome. If you haven’t had it in a while, or ever, do yourself a favor and grab some! And number three, don’t forget your roots. Although I’ve turned into kind of a jaded hop head, and lets face it, a beer snob…I originally started loving craft beer when I discovered good sessions, like Abita Amber and Turbo Dog. It’s easy forget what got you to where you are, in any aspect of life. Don’t be that guy, or girl. You never know…you might discover something totally new or just rediscover something you once loved. Either way, you win.

Since this trip I’ve started moving away from my normal IPAs (sort of) and while I am always trying new things, I have definitely returned to some of my old favorites. It’s amazing how much your perceptions can change with a little understanding…and a lot of tasting!


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