Nick Carr on May 4, 2015 1 Comment Quick Characteristics Brewery: Abita Brewing Company Location: Abita Springs, LA Style: Fruit / Vegetable Beer ABV: 4.2% IBU: 13 Appearance: Straw-Colored, Reminiscent of a Hazy Light Lager; No Hint of Strawberry Sweetness Upon First Glance Aroma: Strawberries! And More Strawberries! Not Too Aggressive, But Bold; Also, More Strawberries. Flavor: Welcoming Combination of Strawberries & Vanguard Hops; Notes of Cereal & Bready Aftertaste; Availability: Seasonal Pairs With: Strawberries; Crisp Spinach Salad; Tuna Salad; Light Pastas; Mozzarella Cheese We just had a flurry of snow here the other day… yeah, I know; snow, end of April, in nice sunny southern New Mexico, go figure. It actually happens more than you might think and it got me thinking about this week’s review. A harbinger was called for, something to send an appeal out, let Spring know New Mexico is ready for her warming touch. And what better way to celebrate Spring renewal then with a brewing company that has built there whole business around making beer as sustainably as possible. This company doesn’t just look to conservation and recycling of brewing resources, but turns their eye to the wider community and its renewal also. Abita was the first brewery in North America to install a Merlin Brewhouse designed around the idea of energy efficiency. This system reduces energy expenditure during brewing by a whopping 70 percent. It decreases boiling time, cuts carbon dioxide, and captures steam to be reused. Why isn’t everyone using this brewing system? Seems like an easy sell to me. They also have their own waste water treatment plant allowing them to protect the artisanal aquifer they take their water from. The anaerobic treatment also creates a bio-gas, which is then used to fuel the boilers. Other sustainability options they have put into effect include using less cardboard in their packaging, using recycled cardboard, having a bottle design that requires less glass, giving local farmers the spent grain to be used as animal fodder, and using gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. Along the way they manage to give back to the community around them. Their S.O.S. beer raises money for rehabilitation of coastlines hit hard by the Deepwater Horizon disaster; Restoration ale raises money for the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation; Abita Abbey ale pays prideful respect to the long tradition of monks as brewmasters by raising money for St. Joseph’s Abbey and Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana. These guys are true advocates of what I’ve always felt brewing should be about… sustaining community in every possible way. I tip my hat to you, Abita. Much love. Much respect. The Pour and Aroma This lager pours the color of any light lager. No tinge of berry reddiness, no hint that this beer is carrying the little sweetness’s of Louisiana strawberries. It instead holds the secret well hidden behind a wall of pale ordinary straw coloring. It is hazy and a fingers-worth of fizzy, white head tops the pour before, as if expending all its energy in its flashing rise, disappearing. The aroma though… the aroma finds no such compunction in keeping the secret. Strawberries! Not to aggressive, but boldly present. Under the sweet blossom of strawberry is the lager stroke of grain, cereal, and breadiness. It’s like putting you face down in strawberries that are just peeking forth through a bed of straw…sort of. Mouthfeel and Taste Body is medium-thin, satiating, with nice carbonation pulling across the palate, adding to the crisp drying feel. With strawberry aroma full in the nose, the first sip delivers the secret home. A slight and interesting, but very pleasant bittersweet quality hits front palate, possibly the work of the Vanguard hops combining with the strawberries. Mid-palate is owned by the humble strawberry’s lovely blush, sweet and mellow, never overpowering or unwelcome. Then the grainy qualities of cereal, and bread crust join a romp toward the back of the palate. Interesting… a very bready aftertaste sort of sets in after the first couple swallows, reminding me of when my mom used to bake thick-crusted homemade bread in our wood-fire kitchen stove. Finishing The Impression This is an example of a fruit beer done well. I’m a little leery of fruit beer because most examples I’ve come across do a lousy job of keeping a balance, going way to extreme on the fruit (It’s like brewers forget that fruit is just another ingredient and not THE ingredient). I have tried a few good ones though and this one surely goes into that list. Crisp and clean, with subtle but noticeable strawberries, backed up nicely by the wheat and pilsner malts and vanguard hops. It is maybe slightly sweeter then I usually like my lagers, but not overly so, and the finish is still appreciably dry. Cheers!