Tomorrow is the annual Beer & Gear event over at Pack & Paddle. This is always a great event to see the latest in outdoor recreation gear. The craft beer from across the US is a plus too. It brings two of my favorite things together so I’m hoping I can slip away and head across the Atchafalaya Spillway. It’s from 5-8pm so if you’re anywhere near Lafayette tomorrow evening, be sure to head over because you don’t want to miss it. I hear the big raffle this year is Steve Lessard’s kayak from the 2016 Hobie Fishing Worlds event!
With Beer & Gear tomorrow, that also means it is the start of demo season. On Saturday Pack & Paddle will be doing a kayak demo from 10am – 2pm over at Vermilionville. Acadiana residents – head over there if you’re interested in trying out the latest kayaks. Also on Saturday, if you’re around New Orleans, Massey’s will be holding their first demo day of the year at Bayou St. John, which will be from 10am – 3pm. The location is across from Cabrini High School, 1405 Moss St.
It’s that time of year, there’s no excuse if you’re in the market for a new kayak or have been wanting to try out the new models not to head out to a demo. They are free and are the best way to try out as many different makes and models as possible to see what will fit you best. Whenever someone asks for some good advice in picking a new kayak, the best thing anyone can tell them is “demo, demo, demo”. I’ve found it really important to try as many different boats as you can before making a purchase because sometimes which one is your favorite will surprise you.
I had to work on the “Best Bank” earlier this Fall and found myself with a little time to kill not too far away from the Jean Lafitte NHP. I decided to check it out and get a bit of exercise walking some of the trails. Jean Lafitte seems like one of those places that gets forgotten about alongside all the other attractions New Orleans has to offer, I know that I’ve driven past it a few times without even thinking twice about stopping. I’m glad I finally gave it a go because I really enjoyed my walk in the swamp. The park boasts an incredible amount of boardwalk that winds it’s way into the Northern Barataria estuary – the swamp was beautiful and the critters were plentiful, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I walked a few miles on boardwalk, someone had to put all that together!
In the past few years I have really grown to appreciate a good beer. It is no coincidence that the rest of the US seems to feel the same way, as craft brewing in America is bigger than it has ever been. These are exciting times for beer geeks, a little overwhelming at times, but exciting. For once Louisiana is not being left behind either. Several new breweries have come online in the past few years and, as a state, we’re slowly building quite a catalog of craft breweries. I’m proud to say that my cousin Lindsay is now officially in that number. Lindsay and her husband Scott have talked about opening up a brewery in New Orleans for a few years now and just recently they accomplished that goal with the grand opening of the Courtyard Brewery. I happened to be working in the New Orleans area that week and was able to stop by to check the place out and grab a couple pints of deliciousness.
Their first day open was also the first day they were allowed to start brewing so they didn’t have any of their own beers available (not sure if that has changed yet, but I think a session IPA was going to be their first offer), but that really didn’t slow them down. They operate a little differently than you’re standard brewery and offer 12 rotating guest taps with only top shelf craft brews. They are fans of West Coast style beers so Lagunitas, Green Flash, New Belgium, Stone and North Coast were all represented. The one local option that made the cut was the Korova Milk Porter from Gnarly Barley, and it was obvious why as it was damn good. In fact I’m pretty sure it was the first to keg to tap out on the night.
The brewery itself is small, so small it is being dubbed a nano-brewery. Their brewing equipment is slightly larger than what you would have at home, so don’t expect to find any of Courtyard’s beers at your local grocer. Because of it’s size don’t expect a big brewery tour either – if you’ve taken one brewery tour though you know the process – beer is made the same everywhere, with the same 4 ingredients – water, yeast, malt and hops. The brewery felt more like a tasting room and I’m pretty sure that is the vibe they are putting out there. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the tap list was superb, I left just as the food truck started serving, but I’m pretty sure they will be doing that as much as possible. All of the beers offered were $5-6 for a heavy 16 oz pour, a heck of a deal, so if you’re looking for a good place in New Orleans to get good beer at a good price, go check out Courtyard at 1020 Erato St.