$50 for 2 hours of unlimited pours from some of the best makers of haze in the country: that was the value proposition for Louisiana Hop Festival 2019. I was sold.
This $50 VIP ticket was a good deal and a surprisingly smoothly run experience. I walked the gruesome 2 blocks to Courtyard Brewery with my friend, and a couple minutes later we had our VIP wristbands and proceeded towards the taproom. Leading up to the event, the logistics of the VIP ticket were not explained very well, so I was left to guess details. I wrongly assumed that the ~100 VIP patrons would be stuffed into the minuscule taproom, fighting our way to the bar in a continuous circle of overcrowded pour -> drink -> wait in line -> repeat. I was thankfully entirely incorrect in my assumption and was instead greeted by the entire courtyard lined by various tents housing breweries who poured their delicious beers to my heart’s content. In addition to the taproom’s 30+ beers Courtyard had lined up a can release for Equilibrium and RAR. I fucking love Equilibrium and consider them one of the best IPA breweries in the country, and to have their beer fresh for purchase in cans was an incredible luxury. After waiting a couple minutes to buy entirely too many cans, I awkwardly and painfully carried those cans back to my house.
Slightly sore arms at my side, it was now officially time to take advantage of VIP. I’ve loved Aslin ever since visiting the brewery in Virginia, and that was my first choice of taster. It’s Okay Baby was more than okay: it was a damn delicious sour beer with mango, oreo, pistachio, and almond. Despite not beginning Hop Fest with a hoppy beer, the crazy combo of flavors worked out well and was a sign of good things to come.
Alvarado Street from California had a couple beers on draft, and I opted for Contains No Juice to begin the IPA tastings. To keep my taste buds on their toes, I next had Alvarado Street’s Motor Oil No. 4, an 11% stout with hazelnut, vanilla, and coffee. My 4th tasting would prove to be my favorite of the day, and I heard other people say the same thing. Can you guess what it is? Yup, it was Other Half with their More Citra Than All Citra. This monster 10.5% DIPA was absolutely dripping Citra in every sniff and taste. Other Half makes arguably the best IPAs in the country, and trying them at any time is a treat. I had other beers from Bearded Iris (Tennessee), Finback (New York), Pinthouse Pizza (Texas), RAR (Maryland), Urban South (NOLA local), Mumford (California), Brouwerij West (California), Magnify (New Jersey), Cerebral (Colorado), Pure Project (California), and The Bruery (California). Other standout beers included Going In Circles from Bearded Iris, a 7.6% sour DIPA with loads of peaches.
Bearded Iris also had a unique white chocolate stout in White Hot, and the white chocolate really shone! I can’t remember ever having a white chocolate stout, so this was a very cool beer for me. Magnify brewed a 12.6% collab stout with Aslin, Flexitarian. While I could not taste it like the Bearded Iris stout, this was also brewed with white chocolate in addition to coconut and coffee. Apparently white chocolate stouts are a thing now!
Hop Fest presented a very impressive lineup of breweries that don’t typically distribute to Louisiana, so mad props to Scott for procuring all the dankness. While there is not a ton of competition in terms of other festivals in Louisiana offering so much delicious beer, Louisiana Hop Festival is definitely the best beer festival in the state. I’ll be back next year, and I hope to see you there!