President of Beers: #48

Purple Haze: Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs, Louisiana

We're drinking the flagship craft beer from every state in the Union, counting down from 50-1, to find which is home to the President of Beers.

Purple Haze: Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs, Louisiana

State: Home to jazz music, delicious Cajun and Creole cuisine, and above ground graves, Louisiana is distinctly different from the rest of the Deep South. Or at least New Orleans is.

Brewery: Abita Brewing Co. started brewing in 1986, using water from the "artesian wells" in a small town 30 miles north of New Orleans. It is now listed as the 15th largest microbrewery in the country and can be found in 46 states and Puerto Rico.

Beer: Purple Haze is a light beer infused with the awesome power of raspberries. The slightly purple hue and fruity taste add on to what is an otherwise dull beer. Starting earlier this year, Purple Haze is one of three Abita brews available in cans.

Difficulty of Obtaining in Oregon: Easy. Check your local beer emporium.

Average Score: 49.5

Purple Haze is an intensely light-bodied fruit beer. The tart crispness and pale color bring back fond memories of clear Haribo gummy bears that had absorbed trace amounts of the raspberry red ones. Just a trace. Lacking both a strong taste and aftertaste, this blowzy beer is so quick and stealthy that you'll forget all about it the second you finish.

Unlike most Southern states, Louisiana does not have any strict laws regarding brewing, distribution and consumption. That's right, the home of the drive-thru daiquiri shop practices a laissez-faire attitude towards beer—outside of the arcane cash beer law that requires all purchases of beer, and only beer, by a retailer from a wholesaler must be completed with "currency and/or coin."

The most recent legal dispute regarding beer in the state was, in fact, just a clarification of the already legal practice of homebrewing in 2010. It passed… by a vote of 36-0 in the state senate and 90-0 in the House of Representatives.

Louisianans, it seems, approve of drinking.

Bourbon Street is famous worldwide as the epicenter of the drunken hedonism that is Mardi Gras. LSU and its corndog-scented fanbase have gained notoriety for the atmosphere of night games at Tiger Stadium—Tigers fans don't change the start of their tailgating, they just drink longer. And that's without even mentioning the Cajuns…

It seems a shame that a state famous for its alcohol enthusiasts and delicious local cuisine is saddled with the 48th best beer as determined by our expert panel in a blind taste-off. In the effort of bridging the gap, we’ve decided to pair delicious Cajun and Creole dishes with the quality beer it deserves: Oregon beer.

Boudin balls: Amnesia Brewing’s ESB
This pleasant, but not overpowering, bitter ESB will go nicely with starchy sausage balls.

Gator and andouille jambalaya: 10 Barrel Brewing’s Oregon Brown Ale
In much the same way as jambalaya feels like a couple of Cajuns just tossed a bunch of meats and veggies in a pot with some rice, the Oregon Brown Ale is an interesting combination of seemingly disparate elements: rich, malty goodness and citra hops. The makers knew what they were doing in both cases.

Gumbo: Boneyard RPM IPA
Chicken, andouille, shrimp, crawfish, crabs, celery, onions, peppers, okra—I think there’s a kitchen sink somewhere in there—and rice are all tossed into a stew with some bay leaves and other spices for this famous patchwork dish. They all blend together for a beautiful aroma and separate into wonderful distinct flavors with each taste. This IPA is in a similar vein as the hoppy aroma gives way to a citrusy nose and piney finish.

Crawfish etouffée: Double Mountain IRA
This delightfully hoppy red ale would be a pleasant companion to this hearty, flavorful Creole specialty.

Smothered nutria: Hopworks Deluxe Organic Ale
Nutria are a legitimate pest and threat to the swamp ecosystem. After collecting the bounty by turning in their tails, what better way to dispose of the carcasses than cooking ‘em up good? Tastes like rabbit. You still might want something organic to wash that gamey swamp rat out of your mouth.

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