Rv’ers love cheap fun, and we had our fill yesterday with a tour of the Abita Brewery in nearby Abita Springs. The tour features two short videos, one on brewing, the other about the environmentally-friendly practices the company has pioneered. For example, they sell the used grains to local dairy farmers as feed, their sales team all drive hybrids, the CO2 released by the brewing process is recaptured for use in cleaning kegs, and their paper six pack carriers require less than half the fibre of typical packaging.
So where’s the fun? The fun is in the tasting, and then in the people-watching. There is a visitors center set up like Hemingway’s “clean, well-lighted place” with a dozen different draft beer taps, plus recorded music by CCR, Jimi Hendrix, and The Allman Brothers. The volume is loud enough to hear, but low enough to talk over. It’s a fine Abita Beer Only bar, and the price is right: everything is complimentary, and there’s no bartender to tip – you pour your own. Everybody knocked down three to five glasses over the 90 minute tour, and these aren’t the usual two ounce tasting cups. You pour yourself a full twelve ounce cold one, and if you don’t like it, pour it out and tap another. If you do like it, well, have another. The plant tour lasts at most ten minutes, so the whole thing is a fine excuse to sample free beer and play Ring Swing.
Kat liked Andy Gator Helles Doppelbock and their Restoration Ale, but Abbey Ale, not so much. (She’s a hop fiend!) I concentrated on mixes involving an old favorite, Turbodog. T-dog is a dark brown ale brewed from chocolate, caramel, and pale malts with Willamette hops. It has a rich, roasty malt flavor, with a hint of sweetness. Turbodog is half of each of the three mixed beers I enjoyed: the Purple Pooch (other half is Purple Haze, a raspberry infused wheat beer), the Hound Dog (mixed with Abita Amber), and the Golden Retriever (made with Abita Golden Lager). Each mix was delicious, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the Purple Pooch. I’ve always loved raspberries, which are even better with chocolate.
We talked to a young fellow from Mississippi who had lived nearby for two years taking his first plant tour today. By last call he’d made plans to come every Saturday, and try to get hired at the Brewery. This Illinois lady winters around here. She came in using a walker, and went out with it, but in between she got her refills without its assistance. This stuff is good for what ails you!