I've always tried to make the tone of these things more about the love of beer and the enjoyment of it versus pure beer snobbery (which sucks), and also because its always fun to highlight good local products. And Baton Rouge picked up their second craft brew outlet recently when Southern Craft Brewing launched a few weeks back. They're a pretty small outlet on Airline Hwy near the Kleinpeter Dairy, but they have two early offerings on tap that you can find at most of the Baton Rouge craft outlets -- Chimes, Corporate Brew & Draft, the Bulldog, etc...
They've started out with a pair of rather unique offerings that are worth a pickup.
Southern Craft Redstick Rye
This rye is based on our original recipe that won 2nd place in the 2011 National Homebrew Competition in San Diego. It is the brew that started it all for us. The featured ingredient is Carolina rye malt, which is produced using an heirloom variety called Wrens Abruzzi that has been grown in the South for over 200 years.
In a way, the story of this brew started over 300 years ago when French explorer Sieur d'Iberville noticed a red pole dividing the boundaries between the Houma and Bayogoula tribal hunting grounds along the mighty Mississippi River. The red pole eventually became known as the red stick, which translated in French is "baton rouge." The name stuck, and our Red Stick Rye not only has a name but a place to call home.
This one has a rich amber color and a bouquet of roasted malts. And that's the flavor you get up front before a hard shot of the spicyness of the rye and the hops combined. Very different type of flavor -- think a spicier version of Parish's South Coast Amber, maybe closer to Tin Roof's Voodoo Bengal. But it definitely grew on me as I finished my pint. If you're a fan of the hoppier style, give this a try. 3.75 out of five stars.
Southern Craft Pompous Pelican
Along any body of water throughout South Louisiana, you'll see him, perched with his chest out. He's deliberate, he's different, and he demands respect. He's the Pompous Pelican, and he's our Double IPA's namesake. However, it's not only the name that makes this beer a Louisiana legend, it's also the local ingredients as well.
Pompous Pelican uses local raw cane sugar from the oldest sugar cane plantation in the United States and southern Cascade hops from a small farm in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. It is justly named after our state bird. Early European settlers were so impressed with the pelican's generous and nurturing attitude that it became a symbol of Louisiana, and now, it's the symbol of our Double IPA.
An interesting bouquet that has kind of a malty sweetness and a bit of hops behind it -- not what I expected at all out of a Double IPA. You get those malts on the open, with kind of a neutral middle and a slight hoppy kick at the end. Texture is a little grainy, but still pretty drinkable. This is another great starter IPA -- if you've had bad experiences with them, but want to maybe try and work your way into the style a little to see what you've been missing, give this one a try. It's not overly hoppy, and has a nice sweet kick at the beginning. 3.75 out of five stars.
Tin Roof's House Beer
Baton Rouge's original craft outlet recently added a classic English-style brown ale that you can find on tap at a couple places in town, including their tap room.
They stayed pretty true to the style on this one, with a very neutral bouquet and a bit of a hoppy open before a very smooth, medium-roasted malt flavor. It's not as deep or rich as NOLA Brown, but if you're a fan of more well-known imports like Newcastle, you can do a lot worse. 3.75/5 stars.
Tin Roof Turnrow
This has been one of Tin Roof's regulars for about two years now, and it really is pretty damn solid, especially for the warm-weather months.
Strong golden-colored ale with a sweet, kind of citrus-y bouquet. But that's not the flavor you get on that first sip -- kind of neutral with just a passing of coriander before an understated malty sweetness lightly buttressed with a tiny bit of lemon sweetness. But not bitter at all. Exceptionally drinkable on a warm day, without much body to weigh you down, either. Four out of five stars.