For nearly 20 years, I have greeted
the holiday season with the ultimate winter ale: Anchor Brewing's (www.anchorbrewing.com) Christmas Ale. This traditional release, which revived the American tradition of holiday beer in the post-Prohibition age, was first brewed in 1975, but every year both the recipe and label change.
On the heels of Gulfport, Miss. beer maker Crooked Letter Brewing (www.crookedletterbrewing.com) bringing its beers to the New Orleans market, two other well-respected and established breweries soon will sell their beers in Louisiana as well. Distributor Uncorked NOLA is bringing The Bruery (www.thebruery.com) from California's Orange County to markets throughout the state in mid-December.
Baton Rouge's Tin Roof Brewing Company (www.tinroofbeer.com) has been busy in recent months, introducing a new specialty beer, hosting gourmet beer dinners and expanding the brewery. In October, co-founders Charles Caldwell and William McGehee, brewmaster Tom Daigrepont and brewer Alex Daigrepont released Rougarou Imperial Black IPA as a limited-edition beer.
The brew pub Crescent City Brewhouse (527 Decatur St., 504-522-0571; www.crescentcitybrewhouse.com) has served craft beer in the French Quarter since certified German Brewmaster Wolfram "Wolf" Koehler opened it in 1991. Back then, "A lack of good beer in New Orleans seemed to be a perfect invitation for a German brewmaster looking for a place to put a brewery," Koehler says.
After Hurricane Isaac ripped the roof off NOLA Brewing (3001 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-896-9996; www.nolabrewing.com) a year ago, the repairs and expansion of the brewery led to the creation of a comfortable on-site tap room. Now, after a recent re-examination and reinterpretation of state laws relating to on-premise consumption at a commercial brewery, NOLA Brewing will be opening its tap room to the public to purchase pints and take home growlers and cans of beer.
Gordon Biersch (200 Poydras St., 504-552-2739; www.gordonbiersch.com) often gets overlooked by beer enthusiasts because it's a national chain and it exclusively serves German-style beers. No hoppy IPAs, no experimental recipes, no barrel aging, no intentional bacteria inoculation — just traditional lagers brewed according to the rules of the Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity law of 1516 which permits only four ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, and yeast.