Abita Brewing By: Chris Wise
Nestled 30 miles north of New Orleans in the piney backwoods of Abita Springs, Abita Brewing has been churning out quality brews since it was founded in 1986 by Jim Patton and Rush Cumming, two home brewers who thought the world needed to experience their beers. In their first year, Abita Brewing produced 1,500 barrels of beer; demand for their brews grew and grew till their downtown Abita Springs brewery could no longer handle the demand. As the oldest brewery in the southeast, Abita didn’t want to turn its back on the community that helped them flourish. So, instead of abandoning their small brewery in downtown Abita Springs, they converted it to a 100-seat brewpub, and moved their main production site a few miles up the road to a site that could handle the increased load.
Abita has upped production from 1,500 barrels in 1986 to 151,000 barrels of beer and 9,000 barrels of root beer in 2013. With such explosive growth, you may be skeptical that Abita has been able to maintain the same level of quality output they had in 1986. However, Abita has remained focused on the quality of the product they put out, using only the finest British and North American malted barley, German and American yeast strains, Pacific Northwest hops and the pure artesian water of Abita Springs. Abita’s main brewery is perfectly located on top of a aquifer, which provides them with clean, refreshing water to use in their brew making process.
Continually looking to the future, Abita announced in 2013 they are expanding their production again. Abita’s current brewery limits them to producing 210,000 barrels a year, a number they are fast approaching, and the plans for the expansion would double their capacity. By adding 17,500 to their current production facility and a new cellar with a dozen 800-barrel storage tanks, Abita is ensuring they have enough room to grow in the future. As well as adding space, Abita plans to make their brewery 30 percent more energy efficient, something Abita Brewing has stressed for a number of years. Abita Brewing was the first brewery in North America to install an energy-efficient Merlin Brewhouse, which drastically reduces their carbon dioxide emissions. They also create their own energy by operating a waste-water treatment plant on-site.
But Abita doesn’t want to just tell you about their amazing brewery and energy saving techniques, they want you to visit so they can show you in person. Abita is so grateful for the support they’ve received from their customers over the years, they encourage all their customers to stop by, see the brewing process and sample a few of their brews, including ones still in the experimental stage. Abita estimates over 25,000 visitors passed through their doors last year alone, and hope that number only increases in the future.
Accommodating larger crowds is one of the major advantages of the expansion project. Abita currently offers guided tours Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 2 pm, and Saturday at 11 am, noon, 1 pm and 2 pm. Customers are also invited to visit the Tasting Room, open Tuesday to Friday from 10 am until 4 pm and on Saturdays from 10 am until 3 pm. The Tasting Room is where all tours of the Abita Brewery begin and end where you can take a seat at the 24-foot, polished mahogany bar and enjoy samples of almost every Abita Beer, view Abita-inspired art and shop for Abita Beer merchandise. After the expansion is completed, Abita will have room for more private parties, and hopes to allow unguided tours through the brewery, in addition to the guided tours.
Abita’s main goal is to get their delicious, high quality brews to as many customers as they can by any means necessary, whether that’s expanding output to reach new markets or inviting more people to visit them in New Orleans. To taste what Abita is all about for yourself, try one of their tasty mainstays, eclectic seasonals, rotating harvest brews or grab a party pack to get a sampling of their offerings. For more information on Abita Brewery Company please visit www.abita.com
Amber is a Munich style lager brewed with crystal malt and Perle hops. It has a smooth, malty, slightly caramel flavor and a rich amber color. Abita Amber was the first beer offered by the brewery and continues to be their leading seller. Amber is Abita’s most versatile beer for pairing with food because of its smooth, malty flavor; try it with smoked sausages, Louisiana boudin, and Cajun food. You might also enjoy it paired with a spicy gumbo or tomato-based pasta sauce.
4.5% ABV 17 IBU
Purple Haze is a lager brewed with real raspberries added after filtration. It is brewed with pilsner and wheat malts and Vanguard hops. The berries add a fruity aroma, tartly sweet taste and a subtle purple color and haze…you may see fruit pulp in the beer. This beer is best served with salads or light fruit desserts, such as soufflés or chiffon cakes. Many people enjoy it with chocolate desserts, or it can be enjoyed alone at the end of your meal as a desert.
4.2% ABV 13 IBU
Jockamo IPA is an American IPA brewed with pale, red, and caramel malts. This copper-colored ale is liberally hopped and dry hopped with Willamette and Columbus hops. The flavor is bold like the “Mardi Gras Indians” who march through New Orleans in suits of feathers and beads. Jockamo has a flavor that entices and excites the palate. The intense hop character adds more spice to the meal and makes it a perfect choice to team up with many spicy dishes. Jockamo goes well with wild game, grilled meats and Thai or Mexican cuisine.
6.5% ABV 52 IBU
Turbodog is a dark brown ale brewed with pale, caramel, and chocolate malts and Willamette hops. This combination gives Turbodog its rich body and color and a sweet chocolate, toffee-like flavor. Turbodog began as a specialty ale, but has gained a huge, loyal following and has become one of Abita’s flagship brews. This ale pairs well with most meats and is great served with hamburgers or sausages. It is a good match with smoked fish and can even stand up to wild-game dishes. Turbodog is also great for marinating and braising meats and cooking such things as cabbage and greens.
5.6% ABV 28 IBU
Mardi Gras Bock
Mardi Gras Bock (January – March) is the first of Abita’s seasonal brews. Abita Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. Mardi Gras bock is similar to German maibocks with its rich malt flavor and full body, making it a perfect choice during Carnival season in New Orleans. Gruyére, Emmental and Swiss are nice cheese choices with Bock beers, and Mardi Gras Bock goes great with roasted beef or pork. Try it with Mexican food, too.
6.5% ABV 25 IBU
Spring IPA (March-May) is a West Coast-style IPA with an up-front intense hop flavor and aroma. Amarillo and Centennial hops give the brew a rich and resinous flavor of citrus and spice. This bright pale ale has a malt sweetness that will give way to a pleasant bitterness. It pairs well with Mexican or spicy Szechwan Chinese food. Spring IPA is a nice accompaniment for cheeses with strong flavors, like sharp cheddar or goat cheese.
6.25% ABV 65 IBU
Pecan Harvest Ale
Abita Pecan Harvest Ale is brewed with pale, Munich, biscuit and caramel malts and Willamette hops. Real Louisiana roasted pecans are added in the brewhouse and give the ale a subtle nutty flavor and aroma. This ale is excellent accompanied with both red meat, seafood, Gouda cheese, and, no surprise here, it’s also great with nuts!
5.1% ABV 20 IBU
Abita Craft Beers are proudly distributed locally by Frank Fuhrer Wholesale.