As an early Father’s Day present, my wife gave me the gift of choosing wherever I wanted to go spend the evening. At first I picked Gnarly Barley since they were having their bottle release party for Green Spaces, an experimental IPA, that day but, as a father to three young daughters, events got in the way for us to get out the door on time. If you’re a parent, you know these things are all too common. An audible was called so instead of Hammond, we took off to Mandeville to a place that has long been at the top of my list of places to visit – Old Rail Brewing Company.
Located across from the Mandeville Trailhead, the aptly named Old Rail takes its name from the long defunct Illinois Central railroad that used to run through the area. The Tammany Trace now follows the route the railroad used to take from Covington to Abita Springs through Mandeville. Several of the beers being brewed at Old Rail are named using railroad terms which helps maintain a further connection to the past while being firmly planted in the present.
Old Rail is not just a brewery but also a restaurant – some might call the combination a gastropub. Regardless, the brewery is housed in a beautiful, modern two story building which draws heavily from New Orleans style wrought iron art work. It would not be out of place to imagine the building having been a refurbished warehouse in New Orleans that’s been modernized. There’s even lovely courtyard for those that want to imbibe outside. For my wife and I, we chose to sit at the bar.
Being active in several beer groups on social media I knew that three of their newest beers had recently been added to their tap selection with two being New England style IPA’s. The third was a dopplebock – a strong, malty traditional German beer. I was like a kid in a candy store once I got in my seat. As soon as we were greeted by the bartender and asked what we wanted I replied instantly without skipping a beat. I was ready. The first beer was The Secrets That We Shared.
Secrets is brewed with a metric crap ton of Enigma, Mosaic, and Denali hops with multiple additions over several days. The final product smells like straight grapefruit and orange juice and is as opaque and colorful as a glass of Sunny D and clocks in at 5.8% abv. It’s juicy and packed with a flavor profile that has copious amounts of citrus mostly pineapple and some papaya. There’s some spiciness and pine on the finish which, for me at least, makes it more enjoyable due to the flavor dynamics form the first sip to the finish. I finished the beer in three quick sips.
My wife was sipping on an Irish Mule, a different take on a Moscow Mule substituting Jameson Irish whiskey instead of vodka. She invited me to take a sip, which I eagerly did (cause whiskey) and I had to refrain from drinking the whole thing. I mean, whiskey makes everything better but this took a Moscow Mule to the next level. Something to consider for tailgating in the fall.
Next for me was Train Graffiti, another NEIPA coming in at 6.1% abv. This was also another excellent beer. Served in a traditional pint glass, the beer poured the color of organic pink grapefruit juice. The texture is described on the Old Rail website as being “a massive pillowy, velvety and cream like” which is all apt. My best description would that it reminded me of a creamsicle. Succulent with massive citrus flavor this one was outstanding.
As we were nursing our drinks, we decided to order an app to share. After getting recommendations we agreed on the pork belly. The house made pimento spread and boudin balls received considerable consideration. The pork belly was served on top of a light smear of wasabi and what tasted like sriracha mayo. The pork belly itself was cooked to perfection. Pan fried with, I believe, soy sauce the outside was crispy and flavored perfectly and the fat of the pork belly was just the right consistency to melt in your mouth. On top of this decadent piece of pig was shredded crab meat and what I thought was shredded daikon. This app stands in the pantheon of greatest apps ever and I had to resist from grabbing the plate, turning my back to my wife, and shoving the whole thing in my mouth.
The last beer I had was their Dopplebock. One of my first loves was German beer and I still hold a special place in my heart for the balance that German beers strike. Old Rail paid a solid to Germany and their beers with this iteration. A strong bready malt presence with dark fruit (raisins and some plum) and a touch of caramel smoothed out the 8.1% abv. I didn’t intend to save the best for last but this was my favorite of the night and a perfect night cap.
From all I had heard about Old Rail I went there with high expectations and usually in those circumstances I’m let down — but not this time. The service was quality, the beers excellent, and food outstanding. I will be back and that real soon. Their specialty beers rotate but they update their website often so you can easily check it to see what they’re serving the day you plan to go out there. It’s convenient to get to as you can either take the 190 exit off before it turns into North Causeway Blvd (there are signs) or you can take the Monroe Street exit and turn left on Girod.
Untappd rating: 5/5 stars