A sour nerd’s guide to Gulf Brew

Photo courtesy of Acadiana Center for the Arts

Gulf Brew is the largest fundraiser for the Acadiana Center for the Arts. This year, it takes place Saturday, July 28, at Blackham Coliseum, featuring hundreds of different beer from local craft breweries to large national labels. Unless your liver has super powers, it is nearly impossible to try every beer offered. Believe me, I’ve tried.

With a menu this vast, don’t waste your time and liver on familiar flavors. The smart way to conquer Gulf Brew is to go for what’s new, notable, trendy and interesting. Several breweries right here in Acadiana are offering flavors you will only be able to try at Gulf Brew, so take the opportunity to taste something amazing. I got a chance to scour the list, and here’s what stood out.

A Bit of Nerdery on Sour Beer

In case you haven’t noticed, sour beer is the latest trend in the beer world. They can run the gamut in flavor profiles. Most beer brewed in the United States utilize wild or unusual yeast instead of standard brewers yeasts to make sours. A reaction from lactobacillus bacteria is what lends the beer sour flavor. Adding fruit to the beer during the aging process can induce a secondary fermentation process, which is why it is common to see a fruit-flavored sour. Here are few at Gulf Brew to look out for.

Tart Side of the Teche Blackberry Lemon Sour

Bayou Teche Brewing out of Arnaudville is doing a seasonal release series of sour farmhouse ales called Tart Side of the Teche. It has released varieties throughout the year, such as Sour Strawberry Ale and Drop-Hopped Sour. The latest release is the Blackberry Lemon Sour. This kettle sour beer has loads of blackberry and lemon juice — think Jolly Rancher and Sour Patch kids having a summer romance.

Another notable limited-release to try at Gulf Brew from Bayou Teche Brewing includes the Ragin’ Cajun Hurricane, available only at the event. This twist on its classic Ragin’ Cajun lager is blended with passion fruit, orange and lime juices. If sours are a little too intense for your taste but you still enjoy a fruity beer, this would be a good one to try.

Parish Brewing – Coconut Reve Coffee Stout

Local beer nerds love Parish’s Brewing Company’s Reve Coffee Stout. Its rich, creamy texture and chocolate flavors make a nice beer to enjoy on a chilly night. The brewmasters at Parish decided to add a tropical spin on the classic with a Coconut Reve Coffee Stout. The process is similar to Reve Coffee Stout, but they incorporate toasted coconut flakes.

Frank Novak from Parish explains it this way, “More or less like a French press but instead of water and coffee, we use coffee beer and coconut flakes.” The flavor profile reminds me of a dark roast coffee but is mellowed out by a mix of earthy chocolate with a nutty sweetness from the coconut. The finish is silky smooth from the lactose and vanilla giving it the creamy finish the classic Reve Coffee Stout is so known for.

Parish Brewing – Double Blackberry Lemonade SIPS

Parish is also doing its own limited release of a sour beer series called SIPS. Each flavor is only available for a short period of time, directly at the brewery and is limited per person. Parish is serious about this. Especially for Gulf Brew, the company is making a Double Blueberry Lemonade SIPS. This beer is made with 300 pounds of blueberry and lemon puree that’s added to a Berliner Weisse base. “The Berliner Weisse base on its own has flavors of apple skins and pineapple,” Novak says. “Overall, it is a fun and dynamic interplay between tart, sour and sweet that is all wrapped up in a low alcoholic package.” You can expect intense flavors of blueberry jam with an acidic lemon finish similar to gushers candy.

Other notable offerings to try from Parish at Gulf Brew include the Kiwi, Lime and Coconut SIPS and Maple Praline Reve Coffee Stout.

Cajun Brewing – Le Bon Papa Simcoe Dry Hopped Pale Ale

If you’re still on to the hoppy train, Cajun Brewing will have a special American Pale Ale, Le Bon Papa. The brew is the first of its Seven Ships seasonal series. Head brewer Jon Lutgring describes it as, “a refreshing, golden colored ale, with a light bitterness.” This beer has citrusy hop flavor and aromas that compliment a smooth malt character.

Other notable offerings from Cajun Brewing are the Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter and the Hefe N Tart – Cucumber Lime Tart Hefeweizen. Be careful with the porter; at 9.5 percent ABV, this strong, robust porter will sneak up on you. It’s got substantial malt character made with real vanilla beans. The Hefe N Tart Cucumber Lime sounds like summer in a can. It’s a wheat beer flavored with lime and cucumber. While this style may be tart, it will not have the sour characteristics of a cucumber lime gose (go-sa).

Gnarly Barley’s Peanut Butter Korova is a limited release brew that you should at least try at Gulf Brew. Porter fans love their Korova Milk Porter. This Baltic Oatmeal Porter is similar to the beloved Milk Porter, but the peanut butter adds a creamy, smoky sweetness. It’s like a peanut butter cup in a glass.

Goses from Our Eastern Friends

Gulf Brew wouldn’t be complete without offerings from our friends at Urban South and Tin Roof Brewing. Urban South will be offering a Blueberry Lemon Gose, Cabana Boy Coconut IPA and Grapefruit Holy Roller. Urban South’s classic Holy Roller is popular among IPA lovers, and the grapefruit-infused version is currently only available in the taproom. This will save you a trip to New Orleans.

Tin Roof, out of Baton Rouge, will have the Paloma Gose and Lemon Lime Gose. A gose is a sour-style beer that is brewed with coriander and salt with lots of fruit juices or puree added in. The wine community recommends gose as a gateway beer for wine-drinkers because of its dry, slightly salty but heavy fruit flavor. In addition, Tin Roof will also have the Haze Hunt IPA and Uberfoot, a kettle sour brewed with blackberries.

I’m not saying not to go for the tried and true favorites. I’m just saying that this year, local breweries have really stepped up their game in terms of offering unique and special brews for AcA supporters. “We did these beers just for Gulf Brew,” says Matt Naquin of Parish Brewing. “It’s our hometown festival, so we like to have fun with it.”