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Friday, December 17, 2021

Texas Road Trip: Day 6 - Gettin' down in H-town!

Day 6 - Houston, TX

Before embarking on our Houston brewery crawl, Justin and I picked up some breakfast to take back to the house before our Uber arrived. But first, he drove past Simone Biles' gym so I could see it up close. I was also shocked to learn that Simone actually lives in the same development as Justin and his family. Somehow I neglected to make the connection when I got Justin's address and it was located in Spring, TX. So, why am I mentioning this? Well, here's a fun fact about me: I freaking LOVE women's gymnastics. I like men's gymnastics too (I mean, can you do an iron cross?!), but I'm a balance beam freak, and the dudes don't do that, so I tend to gravitate to the ladies. I first became enamored with the sport when Mary Lou Retton scored a perfect 10 on her vault at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles to clinch the gold medal in the all-around competition. But I really got into gymnastics around 1996 when the U.S. Women's team won the gold, which was largely due to Keri Strug landing her vault on one leg after injuring her ankle during her previous vault. It is, in my opinion, the greatest moment in sports history, and I'm even getting teary-eyed just thinking about her sticking the landing and getting carried off the floor by Bela Karolyi. 

Perhaps that's for a totally different blog, though. Let's get back to beer, eh? 

Welcome to Saint Arnold!

Our first full day in Texas began with a lengthy visit to the elder statesman of Houston's craft beer scene: Saint Arnold. I'd first heard of this brewery many moons ago from Deuane, who shared a few bottles with me shortly after we'd first met. However, I didn't really know much about the brewery other than they were around since the 90s. Turns out the brewery has been around for a while; so long, in fact, that it's the oldest craft brewery in Texas. Saint Arnold shipped its first keg of beer in June of 1994, which is kind of at the tail end of the Proterozoic eon of craft beer's timeline. 

View of the brewing facility from the beer garden.

We decided to just chill for an extended period and enjoy the vibe of the beer garden, which was quite scenic and comfortable. The beer garden and its adjacent restaurant both opened in 2018, and it boasts some pretty sweet views of the surrounding metropolitan area as well as the brewing facility, which is right across the street. I kicked things off with a pour of H-Town Pils, a classic Bohemian-style pilsner. This beer is rock solid, and I typically find that the more seasoned breweries tend to brew traditional styles better than their "Millennial" counterparts. While that's a fairly broad assessment, it still rings true on most occasions. Verdict? H-Town Pils crushes it! I'd also like to note that I'm glad to see the dimpled mug coming back in vogue. I recently brought my vintage Troegenator mug out of retirement and it's quickly becoming my go-to beer vessel... especially for lagers. 

Pleeps gettin' huggy with a dimpled mug.

Up next was Art Car IPA, an American IPA featuring a variety of hops from the Pacific Northwest. With its blend of tropical fruits, sweet malt backbone and moderate bitterness, this one straddles the line between classic West Coast and NE-style hazy. I followed this up with Fancy Lawnmower, dubbed a "true German-style Kölsch." In all fairness, the only "true" Kölsch beer is brewed in Cologne, Germany (much like champagne produced outside the Champagne region of France). I didn't make up that rule, but someone did. Still, this one was pretty crisp and refreshing with a sweet malty body and citrusy hop character. Kölsch yeast, an ale yeast that ferments at lager temperatures, lends a slightly fruity finish. 

We shared a few sips of a pretty tasty Russian Imperial Stout before moving on to our brewery tour, which Justin suggested we do since he'd never done it. While traipsing around the brewery with our tour guide and a handful of other visitors, I sipped on a pour of Pub Crawl, an easy-drinking pale ale. Brewed with a simple malt bill of 2-row pale and Maris Otter (a traditional English barley), Pub Crawl is hopped with tried-and-true Centennial hops for a blast of grapefruit as well Amarillo and Galaxy to bring in some additional citrus and tropical fruit notes. It's finished with London 3 yeast, a fruity and slightly sweet strain that's typically used in New England hazy pales and IPAs. This classic pale ale with an American twist could fit snugly on either side of the Atlantic. 

The tour was pretty interesting, but in all actuality most brewery tours are essentially the same. This particular one was pretty impersonal and it felt like I was just hanging out with some dudes, which was cool. But we did get a good look around the place, which I always appreciate even though I spend 40 hours a week at a brewery (and that's just for work). Obviously, we spend a large portion of our recreational time at breweries as well. So when folks usually ask me if I'm visiting for business or pleasure, I respond with a simple, "Yes." 

One final thought about Saint Arnold; I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the artwork, which is pretty amazing. Inspired by the abbey of Saints Apostles (which later was dubbed the Abbey of Saint Arnold), the interior of the restaurant area features wooden beams designed to mimic Saint Arnold’s pointy hat, while ornate metal chandeliers allude to some of the European cathedrals Brewslut and I visited on our honeymoon trip to England and France. But perhaps the coolest thing about the space are the six alcoves each depicting colorful murals painted by local Houston artists. Saint Arnold gave the artists free reign over their own space, so each of the alcoves offer a unique interpretation of the Saint Arnold story. Here's a glimpse of one of the murals: 

One of six murals at Saint Arnold.

Up next was Holler, and I quickly learned that this brewery is all about lagers. Sure, they brew a wide spectrum of beers, but they have a definite penchant for bottom-fermented beers. I was excited to see a slow-pour (i.e. side handle) faucet here, a phenomenon I'd only just discovered at Human Robot in Philadelphia. Some beer drinkers believe it improves the head retention and texture of a beer (especially Euro pilsners and lagers in general), while others generally dismiss it as merely a gimmick (Randall, anyone?). If you'd like to dive down a cool little rabbit hole, check out this article for more on slow pours. 

Holler for Houston, yo!

Naturally, I ordered something on the faucet, which happened to be Czech My Phone, a Czech-style pilsner. This one was pretty floral and sweet, and therefore not quite as crisp as I was hoping. But it still had a nice noble hop character and went down easily. I kept to the bottom fermenting beers here and opted for a pour of Patio Daddy-O, a lager hopped with one of my favorite varieties, Nelson Savin. I've been encountering a lot of these "Southern Hemisphere Pilsners" as I've seen them described at a few breweries in recent months, which is due to the utilization of hops from Australia or New Zealand. Others call them "dry-hopped pilsners." Either way, these are usually hopped-up, Americanized versions of classic lager recipes. All in all, I was glad to see a brewery truly embracing the lager culture. I'd say about 6 or 7 of the available twelve beers were lagers, and I wish I could have tried them all. Oh well, I guess we'll have to wait until next time!

Meanwhile, Nate joined our tricycle and we became a 4-wheeled ATV for the remainder of the day. Nate, whom we first met through Deuane back in our Brass Rail Deli days, had recently transplanted to Houston to take up a cellarman job at Ingenious after working at Pizza Boy for a few years. So in addition to getting some hang time in with Justin, we'd also have the opportunity to visit with another friend from PA. Before we left, we got some cold brew coffee on tap and headed to our next stop. 

Remember a few blog posts ago about our day in New Orleans and how Urban South was one of our favorite breweries of the day? Well, it turns out that they also have a location in Houston, which was a pleasant surprise. While the beers here were similar to what we encountered back in New Orleans, the space wasn't quite as charming. Of course, it was still bright and boasted some pops of color here and there, but the space just felt a bit more stark and white overall. I thought the dangling roller skates above the bar were cool, and reminded me of Modern Times in San Diego. Since we enjoyed Urban South's fruited sours, we stuck to "gloop glop" beers, as Justin calls them. 

First up was Strawberry Daiquiri, which is part of Urban South's "Double Spilled" fruited sour series. Brewed with twice the amount of fruit as its standard "Spilled" series, this one tasted like fresh, juicy strawberries pulverized into liquid form. I think there may have even been some miniscule seed remnants in a few sips. I wouldn't doubt it, since they use a boat-load of fruit for these beers. (NOTE: They even have a "Triple Spilled" series, which probably means they probably use a metric shit-ton of fruit, which is even more than a boatload if my math is correct.) 

Pleeps is down with the gloop glop too.

For our next beer, we opted for another from the Double Spilled series. This time, it was the Pineapple, Blue Curacao, Sprite-Smoothie Sour. Fizzy and spritzy with lots of dank, ripe pineapple and a dash of Blue Curacao (an orange-flavored liqueur used in a variety of tropical cocktails), this was the greenest beer I've ever encountered outside of St. Patrick's Day; not "green" meaning "young" but "green" as in the color. And it's not just some boring shade of green; this beer glowed like some kind of alien liquid ooze found on a distant planet in some 60's technicolor sci-fi B-movie. While this beer definitely tasted more like a cocktail, I was impressed by its envelope-pushing blend of flavors. 

We finished up with a pour of Milkshake IPA: Tangerine Vanilla One-Off. It was definitely a "one-off" beer, because I couldn't really find any other information on this other than its ABV, which is 7.5%. Gushing with creamsicle flavor and juicy to the core, this beer was a little bristly but quite enjoyable. While we were here, we also got to chat with the brewer a bit, who I believe is an acquaintance of Justin's. I'd imagine most of the brewers in town at least know each other. All in all, this was a fun stop on the itinerary for the day, but it was time to move on to the next brewery. 

Pleeps loves cans.

Up next, we stopped in at Brash, a cool brewery that's been around since 2015. Justin mentioned that I'd likely dig the vibe of this place and he was right! Brash is metal as fuck. Well, perhaps it's more a mix of metal and punk, but either way it's a pretty dope space. Pleeps was a little scared at first, but once he realized there was beer inside, he loosened up. Aside from beer, the folks at Brash and I seem to have a lot in common: music, an odd sense of humor (evidenced by some signs you'll see a little later in the blog), classic arcade games, and Satan. I have a feeling that these guys aren't afraid to tell you how they feel about shit, so in that respect I think Brash is a fitting name for this brewery. The space itself felt kind of like a holiday camp but for bad kids; you know, the ones who brought in butterfly knives and throwing stars to show-and-tell and used to raid their parents' liquor cabinets when they left the house for a few hours. 

I stayed on the lager train for my first beer at Brash, which was the evocatively named Snapcrackle, an extra crispy Czech pilsner. "Crispy" is quickly becoming a trendy way to describe lagers these days, especially pilsners. It's kind of like describing a stout as "chewy." True, beer is obviously a liquid and can't really possess these traits, but these adjectives can nevertheless help paint a vivid picture. With that said, I found this beer to be a little light on the crisp-o-meter. I also detected a trace of diacetyl, which is commonly found in lagers. It didn't deter me from getting a second round, though. 

Pleeps likes his pilsners extra crispy.

I couldn't leave without enjoying a pour of Abide, a White Russian-inspired imperial stout, which prompted me to blurt out one of my favorite lines from The Big Lebowski: "Careful man, there's a beverage here!" Chalk up another thing we have in common: a love for the greatest Cohen Brothers movie of all time (and that's saying a lot, because there are lots of great ones). 

As I mentioned, there are several funny signs strategically placed around Brash's camp. Here are a few that prompted me to snap a picture. Enjoy!

They'd probably let you stab hippies, though.

On and on...

I think Bube's Brewery needs this sign.

We had time for one final one-and-done stop. Astral opened its doors in March of 2019 and specializes in a variety of hop-forward ales including crisp, bitter West Coast hop bombs and hazy NE-style IPAs. Upon perusing the beer menu, I couldn't resist ordering a pour of Brain Police, yet another beer inspired by a Frank Zappa song. This one is a hazy IPA hopped with Mosaic and, appropriately, Zappa hops. Yes, Zappa has a hop named after him despite the fact that he didn't drink alcohol or do drugs. He did, however, consume lots of hot dogs as well as cartons and cartons of cigarettes during his lifetime. Regardless, he's got a hop variety named after him, and it's an interesting one. Grown exclusively by CLS Farms in the Yakima Valley, it's a 100% neomexicanus aroma hop that comes from - of all places - mountains found in New Mexico. But let's backtrack. What exactly is "neomexicanus"? Unlike the more familiar "humulus lupulus," turns out it's a genetically distinct, wild-growing sub-species of hop found in the dry mountain regions of New Mexico. With aromas hinting at passionfruit, mint, and "Fruity Pebbles" cereal, this is a unique hop variety to say the least. So, there's your hop lesson for today, kids. 

Well, I suppose that about wraps things up for our first day in Texas. It was great to hang with some friends we don't get to see too often, and don't worry... you'll be hearing more about us all in the next installment of the Pour Travelers as we continue to traipse around the greater Houston area. Until next time...

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Texas Road Trip: Day 5 - Finding Texas

 Day 5: Broussard, LA > Humble, TX

The fifth day of the trip saw us logging plenty of road miles as we made our way across Louisiana and into Texas. The reward? A few days of down time in Houston hanging with our friends Justin and Nate. While we wouldn't hit many breweries on this particular day (just two, I'm sorry to report), it was time well-spent at both. 

Nate had already given me the heads up on the sick tap list currently at Parish, our first stop of the day. Located in Broussard, LA, the heart of Cajun Country, Parish actually has origins in Pennsylvania... well, kind of. Its founder, Andrew, was inspired to open a brewery after moving from Louisiana to Pittsburgh in 2003. It was there that he dove head-first into the Steel City's thriving craft beer scene. When I think back to 2003, I'd hesitate to describe the 'burgh's beer scene as "thriving," but perhaps it was compared to Louisiana. Nevertheless, inspiration took hold and he decided to move back home and help put his home state on the craft beer map. 

Pleeps monkeying around at Parish.

I'm embarrassed to say that I hadn't been familiar with Parish prior to our visit. I may have had a beer or two in passing at bottle shares, but it wasn't a brewery on my radar, I'm afraid. Known primarily for one of its year-round IPAs, Ghost in the Machine (nice reference to my favorite Police album), Parish started out small but is now one of the largest breweries in the region, distributing its beer all throughout the south.

Since it was a little over two-and-a-half hours from New O to Broussard, by the time we arrived we were pretty hungry. I think we may have skipped breakfast. Good thing we were in Cajun Country, because the bartender at Parish recommended a great little joint just up the road called BJ's Poorboy and Plate Lunches. I decided that I needed to get some catfish while we were still in Louisiana. It turned out to be a good decision, because I really enjoyed my Cajun Catfish Etouffee with cornbread. I love visiting little hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants when we travel, especially when they're recommended by locals. 

As for beer, I kicked off with something light. Parish Pilsner seemed like a good choice for an opening beer, especially to pair with catfish. Crisp and clean with a hint of mineral-like yeast (which I always appreciate), there was a nice balance of citrus, grass and peppery notes in the finish. And with that, I was off to a good start.

Pleeps drinks pilsners too.

As I said, Nate tipped us off to the killer tap list that awaited us at Parish. He promised a laundry list of big, chewy barrel-aged stouts and other rare, mammoth beers, and Parish dutifully delivered. I decided to go with a flight of some serious high-gravity goodness, which included a pair of barrel-aged stouts and a delicious duo of barleywines. Now we're talkin'! 

First in my flight was Decade One, a blend of double barrel-aged imperial stouts released to celebrate the culmination of ten years of the brewery. Parish seems to have quite a robust barrel-aging program, and this beer offered a hint of what was to come with my subsequent tasters. This particular beer was barrel-aged for one year, then transferred into freshly depleted spirits barrels to age for an indeterminant number of months on whole vanilla beans. 

Up next was a 2020 vintage of Royal Earth, an apple brandy barrel-aged Barleywine. This robust barleywine spent 16 months resting in apple brandy barrels for before conditioning on a bed of crushed roasted pecans. Everyone knows the south loves its pecans! The addition of Korintje cinnamon (from Indonesia) and Madagascar vanilla add a spicy sweetness with nutty undertones reminiscent of an after-dinner liqueur.

The next beer in the lineup may very well have been my favorite of the four. A collaboration with our favorite brewery from Portland, OR - Great Notion - Barrel Aged Swamp Stacks spent more than a year slumbering away in Willow Jane Double Oak + Maple Bourbon barrels. According to Parish, the beer is a "mashup" of two popular beer series: Parish's "Shades" and Great Notion’s "Stacks" series. The result is a gargantuan Imperial Stout clocking in at 13% ABV. Brown sugar and an array of specialty roasted malts create a warm, decadent base, while post-barrel additions of maple, marshmallows, graham crackers, and toasted coconut flakes push this beer over the edge. This complex beer evokes notes of marshmallow fluff, bourbon maple syrup and pure, utter awesomeness.⁣

Last but not least was another 2020 vintage barleywine. Bourbon Barrel Grand Reserve was aged for 13 months in specially selected bourbon barrels to elicit notes of English toffee, bourbon caramel, and holiday spice. Mellow yet complex, this particular version benefitted from Four Roses Bourbon Barrels, giving it - according to the folks at Parish - "a smoother, sophisticated discernment from past batches for our Decade celebration." All in all, this flight was an absolute joy to consume. Gotta love them flights of heavy hitters, right Pleeps? 

A flight tailor-made for Pleeps!

With all of the heavy hitters out of the way, I was craving some serious hops. Enter Bloom, a juicy, soft, hazy IPA loaded up to the gills with Simcoe, Citra and Nugget hops. This one delivered with a soft mouthfeel and a juicy hop profile gushing with orange creamsicle notes that provided a perfect counterpoint to the barrage of stouts and barleywines I'd just encountered. 

Pleeps in full "Bloom" at Parish.

After our lengthy visit, we made sure to pick up some to-go beer to enjoy at a later time. I snagged a 4-pack of Ghost in the Machine and Brewslut opted for a few fruited sours to add to our collection. Thinking that I might never get back to this fantastic brewery, I was sad to leave. But we had to push forward. We were getting so close to our final destination. 

A long, nearly 4-hour drive to Texas ensued, and we finally landed in Humble, just north of Houston, at our destination: Ingenious. This was the impetus of the trip, ladies and gentlemen. After watching Ingenious from the sidelines for the last three years, it's great to see how the brewery has grown to become a widely respected brewery of the southern craft beer scene. I'm really proud of Justin and company for helping put Texas on the map as far as envelope-pushing breweries go. Sure, there are plenty of great breweries stretched across the sprawling boundaries of the Lonestar State, but Ingenious not only carved out its own niche; it also brews some incredible beers. Hazy IPAs? Check. Fruited sours? Yup. Milkshake IPAs (dubbed FroYo)? Tons of 'em! Mammoth barrel-aged beers with lots of adjuncts? You bet yer sweet ass! Ingenious also has a line of unique beers inspired by breakfast cereals like Boo-Berry, Count Chocula and Frankenberry. I've had all of these "monster cereal" beers, and they are all fantastic... with my favorite being the one inspired by Yummy Mummy, although I've never had that particular cereal. Go figure!

Finally made it!

Once we landed at the brewery and greetings were out of the way, I quickly learned that Justin still spends most of his time toying with broken junk (he's a urologist, remember?) and only devotes a few hours each week to the brewery. With that said, he's very hand-on and actively involved in the QA process, and isn't afraid to put the kibosh on a beer if it isn't up to snuff. Gotta respect that, right? 

At any rate, let's get into the beers. Of course, Justin was a gracious host and pretty much gave us carte blanche. After checking out the tasting room and brewing side of the operation, we decided to just hang out at a common table in the cellar where employees sit around and chat over lunch or a few beers. As I've already mentioned, Ingenious is a pretty prolific brewery. Check out this list of beers we sampled during our inaugural visit:

Fuzzy Navel Double FroYo - New England hazy milkshake double IPA with peaches, oranges, and milk sugar. Their "FroYo" beers are some of my favorites they produce. Fun fact: Justin actually shipped a sixtel of a coconut vanilla FroYo one year to FOJ, which was my first experience with the series. Needless to say, it was a huge hit among guests at the event. 

Smarty (Tiger's Blood) - Tart Berliner conditioned on strawberries, watermelon, and coconut. Brewslut was all over this one!

Double Juicy - Juicy New England DIPA double dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Galaxy.

Camp Fires and Ghost Stories - Imperial milk stout conditioned on chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers. Nate named this one, which is perfect for a S'mores stout. 

Smarty (Grape Ape) - Tart Berliner conditioned on grapes, blueberries, and blue raspberry.

Scuba Squeeze - New England Style Double IPA double dry-hopped with Nelson, Motueka, and Citra.

Coconut Madness - Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels and conditioned on both raw and toasted coconut flakes. Like myself, Justin is a huge fan of coconut stouts (more on that later). 

Citra Pils - Classic American Pilsner dry-hopped with Citra. This one was fresh and ready to be shipped to GABF for entry in the 2021 competition. For a brewery that tends to stray from traditional styles, this one was pretty spot-on. 

BA Imperial Peanut Butter Cup - Imperial milk stout aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels and conditioned on chocolate, peanut butter, and cacao nibs. I got it topped with one of the signature "frozen beer toppers." Decadent and delicious... and a perfect way to cap off this epic tasting at the brewery! With that, we were back to Justin's house to catch up and share more beers. 

Frozen beer topper for the win!

Well folks, stick a fork into our first day in Texas. There's still plenty to see here - including more on Ingenious - so be sure to tune in next time as we lollygag around the greater Houston area and dig into its thriving craft beer scene. Until next time...

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Texas Road Trip: Day 4 - Lucky 7 in The Big Easy

Day 4: New Orleans, LA

One of the reasons we'd decided to drive to Texas in lieu of flying was due to the fact that we'd be able to pass through a number of states we hadn't had the opportunity to visit yet. One such state was Louisiana, home of one of the country's most beloved cities, New Orleans. I'll be the first to admit that Mardi Gras in no way, shape or form appeals to me. Like, at all. I mean, I guess I could get down with witnessing some drunk 21-year-olds dumping out their funbags for a few strands of plastic beads, but I simply become too annoyed too quickly with large masses of young, drunken buffoons. However, I was informed that chaos of this magnitude only occurs on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras (and maybe Jazz Fest... 'cuz everyone knows how crazy jazz fans are). I'd spoken to several friends who had visited New Orleans, and all of them assured me it's the best city in the country. (Maybe it would be a close second, as I doubt any American city will ever topple my all-time favorite: San Diego.) With this in mind, I made it a point to block out an entire day on the itinerary dedicated to traipsing around this historic city. 

When we returned from our trip, several people asked us specifically about New Orleans and how we enjoyed our visit. We were asked if we hit up this music venue or that restaurant. Friends wanted to know how we liked the French Quarter and which bars we popped into on Bourbon Street. They wanted to know our favorite BBQ joint and soul food kitchen. 

In reality, we didn't do any of the usual stuff most folks do in New Orleans. We went to seven breweries, then went back to the hotel and crashed. So I suppose I squandered our time in New O, but the breweries were generally fantastic, and perhaps the only thing I regret is missing out on seeing at least one set of jazz at a small music venue or club. But you gotta do what you gotta do. 

First stop of the day: Port Orleans!

We kicked off the day at Port Orleans, arriving just around opening time. I believe we were the first patrons of the day. Since it was early and our first stop, we opted for a flight. Here's the skinny:

Dorado - Crisp, light-bodied Mexican lager with just a hint of sweetness. This beer was absolutely crushable and I didn't think twice about taking home a 6-pack.

Riverfront Lager - Inspired by the traditional beers of Munich, Germany, this golden lager is crafted with a distinct American sensibility. The aroma is fruity with a hint of peach, while the flavor is moderately sweet with a soft, malty character and crisp, clean finish.

Vice Versa - Hazy IPA featuring a malt bill of oats, malted barley, and wheat that's generously hopped with 5 pounds per barrel Citra, Mosaic, and Lotus. Lotus is one you just don't see all that often, although I've come across this variety here and there. Lotus is an experimental hop variety developed under the Hopsteiner breeding program. It's a tenacious variety that apparently outperformed thousands of siblings born of the initial cross breeding experiment. Fast forward a decade or so, and Lotus is one of the trendiest new hops out there. With exceptional aromatic characteristics, Lotus hops lend a huge smack of orange and vanilla as well as more subtle notes of candied grape and tropical fruit aromas. I'd love to try a single-hopped IPA with this variety!

Hoptical HDHC - DIPA hopped with Citra. The acronym HDHC actually stands for High-Density Hop Charge. In essence, Port Orleans uses what they describe as a "ludicrous amount" of Citra Cryo hops (remember those?) at a rate of a whopping 6 pounds per barrel to amplify the citrus fruit character of this very drinkable 8% ABV DIPA. 


Aside from some delicious beers, Port Orleans also hosts a killer taco stand inside the brewery. Avo Taco (a play on avocado), serves up some tasty artisanal tacos and bowls as well as signature house-made guacamole. Seriously, these were some of the best fish tacos I've had outside of San Diego, and that's saying something! I also had shrimp tacos, which were bangin' as well. I'm glad we decided to have a late breakfast/early lunch, because the tacos were legit and did not disappoint. 

As if beer and tacos weren't enough, apparently Port Orleans has some free-range neighbors strolling about the immediate area. I'm not sure if this was a "petty-pet" rooster or what, but he was struttin' around like he owned the place. Like George Carlin once said, "Chickens are decent people." Like this guy...

New Orleans LOVES the cock!

Exactly one mile east of Port Orleans on Tchoupitoulas Street (I'm thinking the first "T" is silent) along the Mississippi River our second stop of the day awaited. NOLA arrived on the scene shortly after its founder discovered there was literally no beer being brewed in New Orleans. It was presumed that Dixie (a popular southern brand) was still brewed within city limits. However, it turns out that Hurricane Katrina forced Mid-City Brewery (who produced Dixie beer) to close, prompting its owners to "contract brew" the beer at an out-of-state facility. With nary a brewery in town, NOLA rose from the ashes of Katrina and thus revitalized the city's fledgling beer industry.

View from our barstools at NOLA.

The brewery is also associated with NOLA Pizza Company, a New York-style pizzeria situated in-house. Since we were adequately stuffed from taco overload at Port Orleans, we unfortunately didn't delve into the pizza, which looked quite tasty. Plus NOLA offers some pretty sweet lunch specials (similar to Pizza Port in San Diego) where you can get a slice, a salad, and a house beer for one low price. 

Back to beer, I felt another flight was in order. Here's the deets on my spread:

Summer Lager - Munich-inspired Helles Lager brewed with honey malt for a rich, bready malt character.

Arabella - Inspired by peach lemonade on the porch after a hot summer day, Arabella is sour fermented with 100% Lactobacillus as well as peach puree.

Hoppyright Infringement - DIPA (had it a few years earlier but apparently forgot!)

Bourbon Barrel Black IPA - American IPA with a bold, roasted malt character aged in Buffalo Trace barrels.

Pleeps says, "Here's one for the calendar!"

Both Brewslut and I felt the quality of the beers at Port Orleans was superior to that of NOLA, but overall our beers were solid. 

Next on our itinerary was Urban South. Simply put, this place just blew us away. We weren't familiar with this brewery prior to our visit, but I'm certainly glad we included it on our agenda. Urban South opened its production facility and taproom in 2016 and immediately began pushing the boundaries of what American craft beer can be. 

While the brewery claims to combine traditional European brewing with the "brashness" (their word, not mine) of new American styles, I think its penchant for eclecticism is firmly planted on the American end of the brewing spectrum. Think hazy, hop-drenched and lactose-infused IPAs and "glip-glop" beers (our friend Justin's term for thick, heavily fruited sours) and you can paint a pretty vivid picture of the types of beers Urban South serves. With all the beers we had the opportunity to sample, the brewery definitely falls more in the realm of "brash and American" versus "traditional and European." At the end of the day, though, its beers are absolutely fantastic.  

Inside the brewery and tasting room, I felt like I was transported back to the 1980s. The decor and color scheme is vibrant and whimsical. Bright, colorful geometric shapes filled the room, and a wave of beach vibes washed over me as I glanced around upon entering. I immediately knew we were going to have fun here. Urban South is the type of brewery you'd loathe only if you were a clinically depressed sociopath. The flavors and aromas of the beers here were indicative of the playful design of the space.

I found it difficult to land on a starting point, as there were easily between 20 and 24 beers on tap. We decided to go quantity over quality and order a bunch of small sample-sized pours so we could try several different beers. 

First up was Nectar Cream Snoball Juice. Man, what an introduction to Urban South! This beer offers a twist on its popular Snoball Juice IPA, which is inspired by the classic New Orleans treat, the "Sno-ball." A snow-ball is a customizable sweet made with a mound of fluffy shaved ice, then flavored with sweet syrups and topped or stuffed with a number of mix-ins and add-ons. For its beer version of this sweet treat, Urban South adds almond and vanilla as well as a heavy dose of lactose to create a decadent yet hoppy beer. 

It's pretty difficult for me to pick a favorite beer during our visit, but if you held a crossbow to my head (everyone uses a gun... how boring!), I'd probably pick Muddled: Fuzz. Imagine that, a peach beer! Inspired by a Peach Fuzz cocktail, this sour ale is packed full of peaches and displays undertones of ripe banana and juicy orange. 

Pleeps enjoying our visit to Urban South.

Up next was Oh the Humidity (great name, by the way). "Nice!" I thought as I read the description of this beer. "Cantaloupe!" One of my favorite summer fruits is cantaloupe, and I'm continuously dumbfounded as to why more breweries don't brew more melon-based IPAs or fruited sours. Although cantaloupe and mango sounds like an odd combination, this fruited sour ale was delicious, displaying both delicate notes of ripe melon and more aggressive tropical flavors of mango. 

Back into IPA territory, it was time to try a beer called Grapefruit Holy Roller. For this beer, Urban South took its flagship NEIPA and cranked up the grapefruit to 11. Hopped with Citra and Mosiac, the addition of grapefruit pushes this beer of a cliff into an abyss of pithy citrus goodness.  

It was time to appease Pleeps, as he was champing at the bit to try a beer called Very Berry Banana. Any time we encounter a beer with banana in it, Pleeps instantly begins salivating. This particular beer is part of Urban South's Tropitoulas Series of fruited sours. The series takes its name from the street on which the brewery resides (the aforementioned Tchoupitoulas Street). This version features mixed berries and banana. Needless to say, Pleeps was on it! 

Pleeps is two-fistin'!

It doesn't end there. We were digging the fruit beers here so we continued to sample small pours of a few more beers. Up next was Building Lives, a beer brewed in collaboration with Son of a Saint, a local charitable organization. This sour boasts huge additions of guava and banana to create an intense blast of tropical fruit. Proceeds from sales of this beer benefit Son of a Saint. Not one, but two banana beers? Pleeps was in heaven!

We also tried the Lime Cucumber Gose, an unfiltered kettle sour wheat beer with kosher salt. This refreshing beer is made even more thirst-quenching thanks to the addition of key lime and juice from fresh cucumbers. This one was through-the-roof light and refreshing, and soooo drinkable! 

I couldn't leave without trying Urban South's take on a smoked beer. A collaboration with with Bhramari Brewing out of Asheville, Smoke Show begins with a base of flaked corn, flaked rice, flaked wheat and Golden Promise malt. The grain bill also features 20% of bourbon barrel-aged smoked malt from NC's Riverbend Malting. This one hinted at some mellow smokiness, but was more toasty and caramel-forward overall.  

Looks kids... it's a Three-Pleeps!

After our visit, I knew this was going to be one of our favorites of the entire trip. Pleeps had an absolute blast, and was excited to try two different beers brewed with bananas... at the same brewery! By the way, you're in for some more Urban South shenanigans once we hit Texas. We were both surprised... but you'll have to wait until Day 6 to learn more.

After an amazing experience at Urban South, it was off to Parleaux Beer Lab, which took us northeast along the Mississippi River. The brewery's name is derived from a bit of French wordplay. Since the brewery is near the river, they took the French word for "bywater" (par l'eau) and parlayed it into a unique name for the brewery. Language for the win! 

This place was right up my alley. You basically just order a beer and sit in the middle of the production space among the sacks of malted barley, fermentation tanks and other assorted implements and ingredients used in the brewing process. We parked at a small couch with a coffee table and just enjoyed the view of some kegs and stainless steel tanks what I assumed was the fermentation cellar. I was definitely "in the zone" at Parleaux, a sensation not entirely synonymous with "loaded," which oftentimes strikes at some point between breweries 3 and 4 during any given day of beer traveling. It didn't hurt that the beers here were fantastic. 

Chillaxing with my main monkey at Parleaux.

First up? Here we go again with the pilsners. This time, it's an "international style pilsner" called Truth & Consequences that's hopped with Nelson Sauvin, one of my favorite varieties from New Zealand. The white grape and citrusy zing of this hop really spruced up this pilsner, giving it a pop of crisp fruit in the finish. 

After an enjoyable first quaff, I stuck with another lager. However, this one was quite different than the one I'd just imbibed. Enter Ruby Coaster, a foeder-aged smoked Helles Lager. They had me at "smoked." Of course, they also had me at "foeder" and again with "lager," making it a trifecta of some of my personal favorite things about beer. If I'm not mistaken, this may have been my first smoked beer of the trip, and it didn't disappoint. 

Pleeps getting the hang of Parleaux.

After a few relatively tame beers (although Ruby Coaster was smoky as all hell), I tend to crave hops. If and Only If, listed on the board as a DIPA, piqued my interest. Check out its unconventional yet amusing beer description:

True or false: You can grow delicious hops if and only if you are between the 40° and 54°N parallel. FALSE! “If and Only If” was massively hopped with African Queen, a hop grown near the 34°S latitude line in South Africa. This hop, along with the Slovenian Styrian Dragon, yields a double IPA with enormous berry and stone fruit flavors and aroma. Clocking in at 8.6%, “IF and Only IF” occupies a biconditional delicious dank state if and only if enjoyed fresh.

Turns out I saved perhaps the most special beer for last. Famille: Foeder Aged House Saison was created to celebrate Parleaux's 4th anniversary. In 2019, the brewery installed a lovely oak foeder to use exclusively for aging its house saison, which is inoculated with a special house culture. The grain beer for the base saison utilizes German pilsner and Vienna malt as well as spelt, raw wheat, and flaked barley, while the hop combo features German Tettnang and Cascade. The beer is then fermented and aged in the foeder with the Brett-forward house culture. 

But that's not all that's special about this beer. According to Parleaux, Famille is a "solera inspired beer." What exactly does this mean? I didn't know either, so it's Google to the rescue! Turns out solera brewing is a beer-making process that dates back hundreds of years. Think of it as the "circle of barrel-aging." Whether beer or wine or sherry, the concept is the same. In the case of this particular beer, whenever Parleaux packages Famille, they refill the foeder with fresh wort to feed the house culture and also to blend with the aged beer already present. Pretty cool, eh? 

Pleeps holds on to his beer at Parleaux. 

Up next, it was off to Courtyard. Inside, this place came across as dark and kind of uninviting, to be honest. The tasting room was so dimly lit that I didn't even get any pictures. We felt kind of out of place at first but slowly got a little more comfortable once the beer was flowing. Inside, the brewery's mish-mash of eclectic design elements warrants its self-imposed title of "neighborhood dive brewery." Can't say I've come across that term before, but I love me a good dive bar, so kudos to Courtyard for embracing that aesthetic. 

Courtyard opened its doors back in 2014 on a 3-bbl system when New O was still fairly undeveloped with regard to its craft beer scene. The city has always been about bars, not breweries. NoLa was pretty much the only game in town. Over the years, the brewery managed to gain a following through its honesty and integrity when it came to the brewing process (i.e. they'd dump beer if it wasn't right). This is a practice I definitely embrace, especially in this day and age where breweries pretty much get one shot at impressing someone... right, all you FOMOs out there? 

Sadly, we didn't spend a lot of time at Courtyard, but after reading this amazing article by the folks at Good Beer Hunting, I'd wished we did. (It's a great story and I urge you to take a few minutes to read through it at some point.) I opted for one of its few house beers called Preach!, a DIPA hopped with Citra and Mosaic. Can't go wrong with that hop combo! It's one of the brewery's signature beers, so I'm glad I got to try something that's a favorite of the locals. 

Up next was a stop at Zony Mash Beer Project. Relatively new to the scene, Zony Mash opened its doors in September 2019. The brewery is situated in the historic Gem Theater, one of just two remaining African American movie theaters still remaining in New Orleans. Inside, the seating for the tasting room bleeds into the brewhouse and fermentation cellar, though everything is situated in a modern-looking space with an open floor plan, bright colors and zig-zagging blonde wood accents. 

But what about the brewery's name? Well, I thought Zony Mash was a quirky name for a brewery, to say the least. Turns out the brewery's moniker pays tribute to an album by the classic New Orleans funk band, The Meters (Cissy Strut or Tippi-Toes, anyone?). There's a bit of music trivia unbeknownst to me prior to going down a Google rabbit hole. 

While we were digging the space and the beers, Zony Mash turned out to be a one-and-done stop for us... and I'll tell you why. But first, let's talk about the beer. I opted for a pour of Refried Confusion, a fluffy pale ale  hopped with two of my favorite varieties: Nelson Sauvin and Citra. The beer was enjoyable enough, as was the snack we got from a local food truck. To be honest, I can't even recall what we ordered (it was probably tots), because what was about to unfold is largely what I remember about Zony Mash.

************WARNING: RANT ALERT!!!************

If you partake in or enjoy Zumba in any capacity, kindly skip over the following paragraph. 

I haven't had a good rant in a while (maybe I have, but who's counting?). At any rate, here it is. Zumba really needs to go away. Any exercise where a group of women in yoga pants prance around in a circle and occasionally clap their hands and yell "Woo!" in unison can just cease to exist... especially when it's done in a public place and there is drinking to be done. My eyes rolled so many times while we were here that I might be permanently be cross-eyed as a result. The intolerable music that blared from the speakers while Zumba takes place only compounds my utter disdain for this activity. I could see Zumba classes at the Zima factory, but not a small craft brewery, especially with customers present. I think I'm going to go on record and say this was a worse experience than a screaming child at the next table. Maybe not multiple screaming children, but certainly one loud-mouthed toddler. So to all you Zumba disciples out there... go to a real gym and actually EARN your beer. 

No Zumba for Pleeps, thank you.

With that said, our beers were enjoyable. Of course, that's in relation to the horde of ladies partaking in Zumba, which was the complete opposite of enjoyable. I would have liked to stick around for seconds, but by the time Zumba ended, the tasting room area turned to chaos, so we shuffled off to our last brewery of the day.

We arrived at Second Line just in time for trivia, and the place was packed. It was a pleasant summer evening by the time we arrived (perhaps around dinner time) and we managed to snag a tiny table in the outside beer garden area, which was more like a courtyard. I'm always down with some good old competition while I'm drinking, so this provided some entertainment while we enjoyed a beer outdoors. Unfortunately, you had to have an app on your phone to participate, and there were like 3 questions per round, which meant a lot of dead space. Oh well, at least the beer was solid. 

Pleeps is ready to hit the sack!

I was just happy to chill outside for a bit and soak in some fresh air. By this time of day, I was pretty exhausted and just wanted to kick back for a bit before heading to our hotel to retire for the evening. A sampled a pair of beers during our visit while throngs of locals competed for trivia glory. 

My first beer was Nutfluff, a porter brewed with hazelnut, coffee, marshmallow and cocoa. I followed this up with a West Cost IPA, which seem to be making a slight resurgence these days. One can only hope. Unfortunately, I was lost in a pre-evening haze during our visit to Second Line, so I'm afraid I can't speak to the overall quality of the beers here. I will say that I ordered a second beer, so they must have been pretty solid. By now, it was time to stick a fork in me. I tried to coerce Brewslut into checking out some live music at one of the city's many venues, but she was three sheets to the wind. It'll have to wait until next time. 

Well kids, that does it for our day in New Orleans. Although we didn't partake in jazz, BBQ or flashing our ta-tas, we still enjoyed our time in this historic city and really got to dig deep into its recently burgeoning craft beer scene. Stay tuned for our next installment, which continues through Louisiana and finally delivers us to our destination: Houston, Texas! Until next time...

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Texas Road Trip: Day 3 - From cotton comes magnolias

 Day 3: Birmingham, AL > Hattiesburg, MS

The third day of the trip saw us cover a lot of miles but only hit a few breweries. For all intents and purposes, it was more of a travel day, which probably wasn't a bad thing since it was a Sunday and most breweries are either closed or have limited hours. Add to that the fact that we were traversing much of the south's craft beer void (Alabama and Mississippi, in this instance), we opted for quality over quantity. 

We began the day with a leisurely drive to Birmingham, AL, for our first stop of the day: Ghost Train. Having been burned many times by referring to Google for hours of operation, I always defer to a brewery's actual web site when planning our itinerary. Turns out the folks at Ghost Train failed to update their site in the wake of COVID-19 (thanks, 'Rona). I was glad to see their hours indicated an 11 a.m. open time; this meant we could get an early start and arrive right at opening time. We arrived at 10:45 a.m. only to learn that we weren't just 15 minutes early... we were an hour and fifteen minutes early. Yes, kids, they didn't open until noon. We saw some musicians unloading their gear from the previous night's festivities, and one of them mentioned that they didn't open until 12. M'wah, indeed. Since our options were limited, I figure we'd just hang around for an hour and drink coffee until they opened for business. Turns out we didn't have to do that, because once they found out we were visiting all the way from PA, they invited us in and basically let us have free reign of the place. 

Tap handles inside Birmingham's Ghost Train Brewing.

Since October 2016, Ghost Train has operated in the facility previously occupied by Cahaba Brewery, which is situated in Pepper Place Market (thought it reminded me more of an industrial park instead of a market). This makes perfect sense, as brewer/owner Taylor DeBoer had been a former co-owner of Cahaba. But the story goes back even further. Prior to occupying this space, Ghost Train brewed at Crooked Letter Brewing in Mississippi. So the name "Ghost Train" has been in the regional beer scene's lexicon for the better part of a decade. 

Since they guys on duty were still getting things opened up for the day, we decided to park ourselves at a table and hang for a bit. Brewslut and Pleeps sipped on a beer while I took a quick stroll around the brewery to snap some photos. The Ghost Train guys were super cool and gracious enough to offer us beers even though they weren't even open to the public yet. Gotta love that kind of hospitality! 

I noticed a pilsner on the tap list, so I started with that. However, I failed to recognize that this was, in fact, an Imperial Pilsner weighing in at 10% ABV. Not the best beer with which to start off my day. Regardless, Incognito is crispy and crushable with a floral hop flair and hint of herbaceous spice as well as some fleshy tree fruit. Of course, the beer is aptly named, as I doubt anyone would deduce that this sucker was in ABV stratosphere of double digits!

Pleeps says, "All aboard the Ghost Train!"

Upon finishing my pour of Incognito, I bellied up to the bar and started chatting with the staff. We enjoyed a few samples and I mentioned I worked at Troegs. None of the guys heard of my employer, which was kind of cool. I always like traveling in states where Troegs isn't available because I love sharing beers with folks who appreciate it. We proceeded to go through just about everything they had on tap, including a tasty wild berry sour called Kaleidoscope and a straight-up Kolsch called, simply, Good-Ass Kolsch. Then we started getting into the IPAs. I tried a bit of the hop-heavy Gulf Coast IPA, which was right up my alley. This one is fairy dank and laid-back with notes of pine resin and grapefruit. 

After all these, it was time to sample a few beers from its Allurium DIPA series. Numbers 3 and 5 were available, and I sampled them both! They just kept pouring... and pouring... and pouring, and who was I to stop them? The two beers I sampled were #3 and #5 in this DIPA series. Allurium 3 features a hop combo of Simcoe and Sabro to provide a blast of juicy citrus fruit with a splash of coconut and stone fruit around the edges. Allurium 5, on the other hand, is hopped with Azacca and Amarillo to produce a tropical-forward flavor profile boasting heaps of mango and citrus with subtle traces of summer melon and even peach. Both of these were in the 9% ABV range, so I kept to small sample-size pours.  

Afterwards, I shared some Troegenator with the guys, which everyone absolutely loved. I also left a few cans behind (as well as a hefty tip for the hospitality), and we were on our way to our second - and last - stop in Birmingham before heading into the uncharted waters of Mississippi. 

Inside Birmingham's TrimTab Brewing Co.

TrimTab was another brewery recommendation from Uncle Jedi. He obviously knows his turf quite well, as this place was solid any way you slice it. Founded in 2013, this Birmingham-based brewery focuses on a diverse portfolio including expressive IPAs, experimental stouts and a variety of fruited sour beers. 

But what the hell is a "trim tab"? 

A quick search on Google reveals that a trim tab is a small surface on the trailing edge of a larger control surface (i.e. a small rudder on a larger rudder... not to be confused with a Dutch rudder). For example, a trim tab on a boat or airplane can be manipulated to counteract opposing forces of resistance. In essence, trim tabs help to stabilize the vessel, which is achieved by adjusting the angle of the tab relative to the larger surface. 

OK, enough with all that scientific gibberish. 

Metaphorically speaking, it's a small, unassuming piece of equipment that seems insignificant but ultimately serves a much larger purpose. It's kind of like Ringo in the Beatles; it wouldn't be the same band without him. According to the brewery: "At the end of the day the trimtab is the actual source of how all direction and balance is achieved."

Inside TrimTab. Squiggly wins!

Like several other stops thus far, I kicked off with a lager. This one is from its experimental Gallery Series, and was notated as #041: Agave Lager. I love when breweries experiment with ingredients and processes and take risks. This beer was crisp, clean and extremely refreshing, with a pop of sweet agave nectar in the finish. 

Another line of beers the folks at TrimTab offers is "Beach Club," a rotating series of fruited sour ales inspired by tiki and island-influenced cocktails. Brewed with pink guava, tangerine, sea salt, and lactose, a beer called Floatation Device sounded quite tasty. This one turned out to be right up Brewslut's alley. 

Pleeps chillin' at TrimTab.

Brewslut loves her sours, so she also opted for a pour of Margarita Gose. Kettle soured with lactobacillus and brewed with Himalyan pink sea salt, coriander, and sweet orange peel, this tart beer also benefits from the addition of ruby red grapefruit and fresh-squeezed key lime juice. This one featured a nice blend of bright lime, pithy grapefruit and a pinch of saltiness with a refreshing finish. 

We had to end on a big note, so I thought it only fitting to share a pour of something special. Enter Language of Thunder Cumulus, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout conditioned on vanilla beans and toasted coconut. Ooofa! This one was over the top with notes of bourbon-soaked coconut, Macadamia nuts, smooth vanilla and rich cocoa. We savored this mammoth, chewy stout, which clocks in at a hefty 9.8% ABV. While it certainly wasn't teetering on the upper scale of the imperial stout spectrum, it nevertheless packed a pretty serious punch. 

After a pleasant visit to TrimTab, we set off on our three-and-a-half-hour drive to Mississippi to visit one of my most anticipated breweries of the trip. I had received reviews of Southern Prohibition from several friends in my beer circle, and all of them were quite glowing. I was pretty sure this was going to be one of the highlights of the trip, and I'm glad to say that it was!

Opened in April 2013, Southern Prohibition Brewing is located in downtown Hattiesburg, MS. Downtown Hattiesburg isn't what I'd call a metropolis. As a matter of fact, it seems as though Shamokin, PA, might have more happening on its main drag. The outside of the brewery is very industrial and somewhat akin to a warehouse or automotive store (think Auto Zone or the Pep Boys... Manny, Moe and Jack). Once inside, however, the atmosphere changes dramatically. 

Outside Mississippi's Southern Prohibition Brewing Co.

Upon entering, we were greeted by an oddly appointed Victorian-style room with a large screen TV, a fireplace and some highbrow leather armchairs and other period furniture. Even the wallpaper would have been up to snuff for Queen Victoria's library. Continuing up a narrow hallway, we arrived at the tasting room, which looked more like something you'd find in a brewery. A long bar occupies the wall on the right, and the room - with cinderblock walls and a concrete floor - is sparsely decorated with some barrels and scattered seating. The beer board above the tap handles provides the focal point of the room, which was fine by me. After all, we were here for the beer. 

Sadly, we only had about an hour and fifteen minutes to spend here. With such a small window of opportunity, we made every sip count! First off, the two bartenders (one, a young male college student and the other, a young twenty-something woman), were amazingly friendly and talkative. Oddly enough, the place was virtually empty. Perhaps folks from Mississippi don't believe in drinking on the "Lord's Day." Fine by me! We basically had free reign of the place during our visit. 

Southern Prohibition is one of those places where I want to try just about everything it had to offer. With limited time, I opted to open with a sample flight. I opened with three small pours of the following beers:

Space to Face - Hazy IPA hopped with Galaxy and Citra. Thanks to a healthy dose of lactose, this one is velvety smooth with a fruity character and crushable drinkability. That's my kind of hazy! I was quick to grab a 4-pack of this to enjoy at a later date. 

Sherbet Sherpa Banana Split - You know Pleeps wouldn't let us leave without trying this beer. Loaded with banana, coconut, strawberry, and vanilla, this beer comes across as liquid sherbet, so mission accomplished, I suppose. Pleeps was all over this one... as was I! I'm always skeptical about banana beers, but this one delivered. 

Cake Walk Chocolate Turtle Cake - Another one of Pleeps' favorites, this decadent Imperial Stout mimics a chocolate turtle cake. Part of the "Cake Walk" series, this dessert beer features plenty of adjuncts including lactose, caramel, cocoa nibs, and roasted walnuts. Yum, yum, gimme some!

Everything in my flight was pretty amazing, so we continued sampling beer until we had to leave. Again, I'm not sure if or when we'll ever be in Mississippi again, so I figured we might as well take advantage while the taking was good. 

I followed my stellar sampler flight with something called Double Fluff. This time around, the inspiration was another famous southern dessert - blueberry apricot crumble. Packed with a laundry list of scrumptious ingredients including blueberry, apricot, pecans, marshmallows, honey granola, and a pinch a cinnamon, this beer is southern hospitality in a glass!

We ended our stellar visit at Southern Prohibition with a pour of Crowd Control, a dry-hopped DIPA showcasing Mosaic hops. Sticky and fruity with a solid malt backbone, this was a flavorable yet well-balanced DIPA with plenty of citrus, tropical, and berry-like fruit notes. What a way to stick a fork in our visit to this fantastic brewery!

Pleeps enjoying our flight at Southern Prohibition.

While we were at Southern Prohibition, we caught wind of another small brewery in Hattiesburg called Colludium. We hadn't planned on hitting another brewery, but we figured we might as well. I mean, when is the next time we'll be in Mississippi? 

Colludium is about board games as much as it is about beer. Boasting more than 100 games of all kinds, this place provides a really inviting atmosphere perfect for friends to gather and spend a few hours kicking back some beers. With a hodgepodge of mix-and-match tables and chairs, shelves of games, and other assorted knick-knacks, I felt like I was hanging out in my grandparents' attic, or perhaps Auntie Wainwright's bric-à-brac. However, the main difference here was the addition of beer. 

A wall of games awaits at Colludium.

Turns out the actual name of the brewery was also inspired by the two owners' love of games. With origins in Latin, the word "colludium" refers to sporting or playing together and is also linked to the word "collusion". 

The tap list was light, as expected for a tiny brewery, so we opted for a one-and-done visit. As hard as it was to abstain from getting knee-deep into a game of Scrabble or Hangman, we decided to stick with beer and conversation. With that said, I opted for Wizards of the West Coast, a West Coast IPA, while Brewslut went with Peach Sour Up. I couldn't really find any details on either of these beers, but I do remember the IPA being a little off with a tinge of diacetyl, an off-flavor reminiscent of buttered popcorn to which I'm extremely sensitive. Otherwise, it tasted like an old-school IPA with the classic "C" hops for a mix of citrus fruit and some pine. One the other hand, Peach Sour Up was quite pleasant. If I had to guess, the base beer was likely a kettle sour (perhaps a gose or Berliner base beer). In the end, this refreshing beer offered a subtle peach flavor paired with some mild acidity and tartness. 

Inside Colludium's bric-à-brac... I mean brewery!

Well folks, that's a wrap on Day 3. We had another hefty travel day in store for us on Monday (not a great day for visiting breweries), followed by a brief respite in New Orleans, our first-ever visit to this historic city. Tune in for Part 4 as we continue onward to our destination: Houston, TX! Until next time...