Monday, November 30, 2009

A Sneak Peek at the Parish Brewing Company

A couple nights before Thanksgiving I was invited to check out the brand new Parish Brewing Company near Lafayette, La. Andrew Godley, the owner and brewer, welcomed me and some of my select craft-beer-loving friends to his home where we were able to sample his brews and discuss his brewing knowledge and game plan for the brewery over dinner.  I brought Eric and Eusebio with me while Ben and Andrea met us at Andrew and his wife Rachel's house where Andrew has been home brewing since 2007.

The Group Talking About Parish Beer in Andrew's Garage

Andrew got the festivities started right away by pouring us all a glass of beer before talking about any of his brews or custom equipment.  We began with a tasting of the Parish Biere Blanc which is a dry-hopped pale ale using hops from the Pacific Northwest.  It had many of the characteristics of craft beers that you find in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington while still maintaining a crisp and refreshing taste throughout and not being overpowered by the delicious hops.

The Parish Brewing Company's Tasting Taps

Parish Primo Pilsner and Parish Oktoberfest

The next two brews that Andrew let us sample included his version of an American-style pilsner and his seasonal Oktoberfest beer.  The pilsner was lagered and had the taste of a typical "American" macro-brewed beer except that you could actually taste the malt and hops!  In some ways, it reminded me of what a Budweiser should taste like if it were not watered down due to mass production.  The beer still had the light and crisp characteristics and, I hate to say this, "drinkability," while also offering the extra flavor and beer notes that come with any good micro, or in this case nano, brews.  The Oktoberfest had a true beer flavor that you find in a lot of European beers and American Oktoberfest-style beers.  Brewed as an ale, the Oktoberfest blended together a wonderful combination of malty goodness and noble hops.

Now for a look at the Parish Brewery original home brew kettles and the new equipment to enlarge the brewery's capacity.

The old home brew kettles made with retired stainless steel half-barrel kegs.

The new boil and mash pots.  The are actually stainless steel 55 gallon drums.  The wood is for insulation and decoration.

Jay checking out the new line of stainless steel drums.  Photo courtesy of Eric Ducote.

Parish's electrical relay switches followed by the new fermenting tanks which will replace the 5 gallon carboys

Parish Pumpkin Patch and Parish Canebrake

Now we should return to the beer before moving on to dinner.  The final two Parish beers that Andrew poured for us were the Parish Pumpkin Patch and the Parish Canebrake.  I would venture to say the Pumpkin Patch won the evening as the beer that is most ready to go to market and needs no further tweaking of its recipe or process.  The best thing about the Pumpkin Patch is that it is a beer first.  Many vegetable and fruit beers add extract that overpowers the actual beer.  A lot of times this is taken advantage of by the brewer making a relatively crappy beer and then masking it with sweet flavor.  That is no good.  The Parish Pumpkin Patch is just the opposite... and excellent beer with just enough pumpkin flavor and spice (which comes from real pumpkin added into the process, not just flavoring afterwards) to make it feel like the Fall has arrived.

The Parish Canebrake is a the beer that I'm looking most forward to Andrew perfecting.  It has potential to become Parish's flagship label as it is brewed with Louisiana sugarcane!  The light, crisp, and refreshing beer will finish sweet on the palate with lingering hints of molasses.  The version that we tried was a little lighter on the sugarcane than I think he should go with.  I wanted a little more pure cane flavor to stay on my taste buds after each swallow, not to the point of overpowering the malt and hops, but enough to make me realize what I'm drinking.  I have no doubt that Andrew will play with this recipe and get it right just in time for Crawfish Season!  Mais cher, dat'll hit da spot, yeah!

The Grill Fired Up with Glorious Assorted Meats

Andrew lit the barbeque pit and began to cook a feast for us while we continued to drink Parish beers and talk about brewery related topics.  He hit up a local specialty meats store and picked out some wonderful meats for us to dine on.

My Glorious Plate of Food at the Parish Brewing Company

My platter featured several perfectly cooked bacon wrapped duck breasts.  They were tender and juicy on the inside, and everything is even better when you add bacon!  Above the duck breasts on the plate are three stuffed mushrooms.  Two featured a seafood dressing and the third came stuffed with a spinach mixture.  Both varieties were extremely tasty but I'd give the edge to the seafood dressing.  On the left side of the plate is a broccoli salad that was really a slaw of sorts with broccoli mixed in.  I'm usually not a cole slaw fan, but this salad hit the spot and supplied a bit more greenery on the plate.  Finally, the top of the post features a locally created chicken and apple sausage.  The apple added just a hint of sweetness to the chicken to create a really great encased meat.

The Final Beer of the Night: Maharaja Imperial Pale Ale from the Avery Brewery

The Maharaja is one of the finest and hoppiest IPAs that I've ever tasted, so a very big thank you to Andrew for breaking his bottle out and letting us try it.  The great thing about beer geeks is that they know good beer when they taste it, and the aren't afraid to promote what other brewers are doing well.  That is the case with Andrew when it comes to this IPA from Avery.  Every sip was a hop explosion on the tongue, though the malt was still present and obvious on the palate, unlike some double or triple IPAs.  The Maharaja ended the evening of craft beer and food fantastically.  I'll be very excited in the coming months when the Parish Brewing Company begins to be fully functional and the beer starts to flow through South Louisiana.  I highly recommend that everybody give them a try and taste a bit of what Louisiana craft breweries have to offer! Cheers!

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