Darktober 10: Blackened Voodoo Lager

Brewer: Dixie Brewing Company (currently brewed by Joseph Huber Brewing Company)
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana (currently Monroe, Wisconsin)
Type: Schwarzbier
ABV: 5%

Many, many moons ago, my very first official business trip took me to the Big Easy, itself: New Orleans. It’s been a love-love relationship ever since. In fact, I do believe that New Orleans holds pride of place as my favorite visited U.S. city to date (San Francisco is close on its heels, but still so very far away). I’ve been there three times now. If I was given the chance right now to go again, this entry would be left unfinished at this very line.

I’ve already tried to capture my feelings about this beautiful city (and only come marginally close). I won’t try again. At least not for this review. Instead, I’d like to introduce you to the very first Nawlins beer I ever had: Dixie’s Blackened Voodoo Lager.

It was my first night in the Big Easy and I was itching to try it all—the cuisine, the drinks, the everything. First on the list? Satiate my evening need for food. If you know anything about New Orleans, you know you’re destined to have some scandalous culinary experiences while there. If you can make it out of the Big Easy without gaining at least five pounds, you’re made of stronger (and lighter) substance than me.

On this evening, I found a small little hole-in-the-wall joint, just beyond the parameters of the French Quarter’s nearly constant party hustle. It was literally like walking into someone’s home and resting a spell in their front parlor. A massive pass-through in the back allowed clear view of their kitchen, where it looked like the matriarchs of a family preparing a meal for guests. My dinner that night was a bowl of mind-blowingly wonderful crawfish etouffe washed down by a Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager.

Why tell you all of this in a beer review? Because of what I’m now about to say: This beer should not be drunk alone. It begs to be paired with something hearty, something heavy…something saucy, spicy, and sinfully satisfying.

Its opulent hue and fragrant nose immediately bring to mind what the first taste confirms: the floral sweetness of wild flower honey. Initially delicate and smooth, it’s the type of flavor that warns of oncoming cloying dangers if unaccompanied by a savory counterpoint. However, paired with a dish like etouffee or a robust jambalaya…even something less Nawlins like a well-spiced chili, and you are set for an awesome culinary experience. This liquid ambrosia provides the perfect light, soothing balance to any spicy, heavy dish.

In a sad yet hopeful footnote, the Dixie Brewing Company, which had been a New Orleans staple for nearly a century, has yet to re-open since Hurricane Katrina and post-hurricane looting left it decidedly unfit for business. Discussions are ongoing about how to reinstate this Grand Dame of Bayou Brewing, but in the interim, the Wisconsin-based James Huber Brewing Company has picked up the production of several of Dixie’s line, including Blackened Voodoo Lager. The bottles pay tribute to this inspiring collaboration with the following:

The century-old Dixie Brewing was almost destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but restoration is under way. With the help of our friends, we’re working hard to re-beer New Orleans and the rest of the country.

I truly hope that one day Dixie beers can return to their Crescent City home, but until then I am more than grateful to the company that has ensured the continuation of this lovely Louisiana staple.

Photo Fun Friday: Community Coffee House

Other than being re-sized for posting, this photo is completely unaltered in any way:

A rarity, indeed, denizens. Typically, I always do something to my photos before posting them, whether it be something simple like cropping it in a certain way or tweaking the color levels, or something…a bit more dramatic.

I can’t help myself. I am a PhotoShop devotee, to the very depth of my CMYK/RGB soul.

That being said, the moment I saw this photo, I loved it just as it was, without one plea. We’d gone out walking early on Sunday morning, our last full day in New Orleans (in case you were wondering, that’s part of the reason I barely made it to the lair in April…prep work followed by onsite support for a conference in the Big Easy, after which I played tourist for a few days).

It was already in the mid-70s and the sun was just reaching the point where it could cast its light down into the magnificent maze of the French Quarter. We were already heading to a place for breakfast, but I couldn’t resist stopping and filling my lungs with the scent of coffee wafting from this corner Community Coffee House.

As I stood, watching the light cast shadows of street lamps and signage against the wall, I was struck by how so many of the aspects of New Orleans that I love were right there in front of me: the cast-iron quaintness of the lamp posts; the bilingual street signs, each pointing us deeper into the tangle of delights that the Quarter willingly offers up to everyone who wanders through; the local brew house, churning out yet another delicious aroma to cancel out Bourbon Street’s unseemlier smells; the strong glow of sunlight, pouring down on it all, bright and bounteous.

The entire tableau made me so happy that I couldn’t resist snapping a shot before moving along to our breakfast destination. I didn’t even review the shot after taking it…simply slung the camera back over my shoulder and ambled on down the Rue Royale, thoughts of coffee and fried green tomatoes and biscuits and gravy taking precedence once more.

Imagine my surprise when I finally saw the shot.

True, the longer I look at it, the more ideas flood my mind regarding what I could do with it in PhotoShop…age it, fade it, bolster the color, crack it, rip it…the temptation is engulfing. However, for this post, I give it to you in its simplest, truest form.