This month, WYES hosts two fundraisers, a private beer sampling and an international beer-tasting event, that together offer an excellent opportunity to taste some of the best new brews as well as support the local public-broadcasting station. Both take place at Mardi Gras World; the sixth-annual Private Beer Sampling is on Friday, June 13 (7-10 p.m.) in the Grand Oaks Mansion Room and the 31st WYES International Beer Tasting takes place on Saturday, June 14 (6-9 p.m.) in the River City Ballroom.
Last year’s lineup was great, albeit overwhelming. Many home brewers exhibit great fascination with chocolate-peanut-butter stouts and praline-coffee porters. When ordering a beer, you might get a beer, but you might also get the bubbly sister of a white-chocolate mocha frappuccino, shot of hazelnut, whipped cream—hold the caramel drizzle.
After a long night of sipping (one home brewer actually made beer with crab boil last year—no joke), one thirsts for a clean, solid brew where everything is perfect and nothing stands out. The good thing is that the WYES beer events offer that as well.
Friday night’s sampling tends to be more intimate and predominantly local, while Saturday night also brings in large commercial breweries. Home brewers stand out at both events. This year, we look forward to trying a funky saison with borage called Belgian Stowaway from Brasseurs à la Maison in Baton Rouge; a potent (8% ABV) cider by Riley Bordelon called Undergarment Eraser Cider; and Greg Hackenberg’s (Crescent rwebCity Homebrewers) wheat beer, Bridge on the River Quat, with kumquats and Amarillo hops.
Among the Louisiana breweries, we’ll seek out two from Tin Roof (Baton Rouge): their spiced blonde ale, Blonde Sugar Sex Magic Pepper, aged with Thai chili peppers, and Puckerup Flemish, a sour red ale. The new Arabi brewery 40 Arpent will bring out their Monday Special, a red-bean ale with “andouille-smoked” (which probably just means smoked) barley; Cajun Fire (New Orleans) will be pouring Lemon Berry Blues, a dark wheat ale; and on Saturday, Old Rail Brewing (Mandeville) will offer their Seven Sisters IPA, crafted in the West Coast style. If you haven’t tried NOLA Brewing’s Rebirth Pale Ale yet, make sure they don’t blow their keg before you do.
Southern breweries in general are well represented at the WYES beer events. Crooked Letter (Ocean Springs, Mississippi) will have Mariposa Pale Ale on tap, with hints of jalapeño, and Lazy Magnolia (Kiln, Mississippi) will bring a German-style sour wheat ale (only 3.5% ABV) called Song of the South, while Saint Arnold (Houston, Texas) will be pouring something similar, Boiler Room Berliner Weisse (3.7% ABV). Southern Prohibition (Hattiesburg, Mississippi) brings several promising beers, including Suzy B, an unfiltered “dirty blonde,” and 2014 IPA, an aggressively dry-hopped West Coast-style India Pale Ale.
From the northern United States and beyond, we can’t wait to try Founders’ Rubaeus, with fresh raspberries added at multiple stages of fermentation; Boston Brewing Company’s lemony Porch Rocker on draft; and Angry Orchard’s Iceman, made with frozen apples.
If all else fails, we know we’ll enjoy pretty much anything Sierra Nevada puts out, and there will also be Petrus and Duchesse de Bourgogne, two of our favorite sours, as well as Unibroue’s Blanche de Chambly, a Belgian-style wit that’s clean and flavorful enough to save anyone who might have suffered a collusion between Willy Wonka and Starbucks in the stout and porter corner.