This week, I'll take on two beers by myself. The first beer is from way down south.
I recently had a friend return from New Orleans and, after telling her we wouldn't be friends anymore if she didn't, I finally convinced her to bring me back some beer. She brought me a few from one of the best breweries down there: NOLA.
New Orleans Lager and Ales, better known as NOLA Brewing, comes to us out of (you guessed it) New Orleans, Louisiana. They began in 2008 and are the only craft brewery in the city, where they are located right in the middle of the Irish Channel. Currently they are only available in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida but will hopefully expand soon.
Rebirth pours a cloudy copper color and has just a finger of head, which subsides rather quickly, topping the beer. The Simcoe and Citra hops in the beer give off a very nice cherry and citrusy smell, which just a touch of caramel and bready malts in the background. It was a good start to me.
When I first sipped the beer, there was an awesome balance between the malts and hops - neither one trying to out do the other. As expected from the smell, the Citra and Simcoe hops accounted for most of the flavor: cherry and citrus with the malts adding some pine and caramel to even things out.
The farther down I drank, however, the more the bread flavor began to emerge, reducing the attack from the hops. I don't think rebirth is that hoppy to begin with and it isn't incredibly bitter at all (41 IBU). But the more you drink, the more the malt and bitterness come out. I found it to be very smooth at first but then, at the end, those 41 IBU wanted to be heard. For me it wasn't anything too bitter, nor did it take away from the overall taste of the beer.
I'm going to say that NOLA has created a very good, very easy to drink pale ale with this one. At 5% ABV, it's not going to have you hitting the wall early on but, rather, is a nice, easy to drink beer that you can have multiple of in one night. It'd be perfect for a bonfire or outdoor concert this summer.
And Rebirth is not just a good beer. It is also a worthy cause, as a portion of the profits goes to The Roots of Music, an organization that helps young kids while preserving the music culture of New Orleans. And at only $1.79 for a 12 ounce can, it's well worth it! 8.5/10
My second beer isn't really from the south, just inspired by another state from down there:
Hailstorm is a smaller brewery located in Tinley Park, Illinois, a suburb southwest of Chicago. They just recently celebrated their one-year anniversary in April and, despite their relatively short lifespan, have made a splash in the area. They still have a limited distribution range but that looks like it might change shortly, if all goes well.
The brewery claims that Alabama Hot Tub is a pale wheat beer...but it certainly doesn't look, or smell, like any wheat beer I've had before. Instead, I'm reminded of an American pale ale more than a wheat beer.
Alabama Hot Tub pours a crisp, golden color with many tiny bubbles exploding upward towards the brim of the glass, but only has about a finger of head topping the brew. A strong aroma of cherries with some hop backing filled the room immediately.
Naturally, I was intrigued, so I dove right in. And again, it didn't taste like a typical wheat beer. It's a light, pretty smooth, beer that hides some cherry and citrus flavors that occasionally peek through. There isn't any real bitterness to it (as it's only 28 IBU) but the hops make their presence known.
The malt is hidden well by the Amarillo hops, which makes this a sweeter but rather dry beer. And the further down you drink the more the sweet and citrusy flavors emerge. A sharp, strong lacing is left behind by the beer on the glass, leaving a clear indicator of how much you consumed at each interval.
This was a very easy to drink, very good wheat beer and only clocks in at 5.5% ABV. I wanted to take a break from all the IPAs I usually drink and review, but it turns out I just can't escape them. Alabama Hot Tub smelled and tasted more like a West Coast IPA than a wheat beer (which you know I'm totally fine with). That being said, if more wheat beers tasted this good, I'd drink them way more often.
Alabama Hot Tub is the third Hailstorm beer I've ever had, the second I've reviewed for BBG, and, by far, my favorite from them (so far). It's even priced right, at $5.99 for a 22 ounce bomber, so the only problem I can see is that it's not available everywhere. But if you live close to Chicagoland, it's worth a trip to try and find it. 8.5/10