Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Wet in SE Louisiana

For more than four decades, I have maintained a strict “no root beer” policy. When I was a small boy, I tagged along with my mother and some of her friends on a tour of a brewery in San Antonio. The root beer was cold, free and unlimited. I took advantage of this opportunity with a little too much enthusiasm.
I remember throwing up root beer. During the tour. Surrounded by people.
I remember the smell and feel of it as it went the wrong way, even through my nose.
I remember being embarrassed.
As I approach 50, I am about exorcizing demons. So, I went on a brewery tour and I sipped some cold, fresh root beer. I did not throw up.
We were invited on a weekender by another couple. They were motivated by their devotion to Abita beer. So, off we went to the Abita brewery in Abita Springs, Louisiana. Consistently the good sport, my wife approached the trip with a “sure, why not?” frame of mind. Unlike me, she had no brewery tour experience; so she didn’t know about the whole “free” thing.
During the appointed tour time, you can pretty much help yourself to the taps. We sampled a couple of varieties and then moved on to curing my root beer issues. We were, after all, driving. Plus, there’s the whole “lessons learned” aspect of my previous overconsumption trauma. There were a lot of people on our tour and many of them took great advantage of the free-flowing taps. I think that’s the main attraction. I mean, the little building is nice and the big tanks of beer in the brewery itself are kind of fascinating, but it’s not something you’d necessarily build an afternoon around. Except for the free beer. Abita Amber is my go-to brew when I drink beer socially, so there’s an advantage to having visited the motherland, I suppose. It was a low-key excursion on a hot Louisiana Saturday.
I know a little bit more about my state than I did before, so I feel like a good citizen.
We eventually made our way to New Orleans, where we stayed in a French Quarter hotel. Our room opened into a courtyard, but we didn’t get much use out of it. The afternoon was interrupted by a raucous thunderstorm. When the weather finally settled down, the early evening was heavy and sticky, quintessentially New Orlenian. We kept things low-key, strolling through the Quarter and stopping for a time to overeat. After dark, we hopped on the street car and rode uptown for dessert at the Magnolia Grill. Nothing is free there, by the way.
We had a Sunday morning breakfast at Café du Monde and hit the highway for home. We were gone for about 36 hours and enjoyed a nice change of scenery. I guess that’s what a weekender is all about.
What’s next? Who knows? I might just try a root beer float.

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