Riding On the City of New Orleans, Be Sure To Stop At Second Line Brewing (right off the tracks)
Updated: Apr 18, 2019
After Thursday night's show at Tallulah Brewing, we were riding a wave of energy and decided to push on towards New Orleans so we would have a shorter drive on Friday. We drove until abut 3am, slept late in the tour van (which has a big bed, so it's rather comfortable), and after a healthy breakfast we pushed on... arriving in New Orleans about noon.
Our first show of the weekend was at Second Line Brewing, in the Mid-City neighborhood of the city. Mid-City is a few minutes from downtown and the Quarter, and is probably best known as the home of the Fair Grounds, where Jazzfest is held each year. We arrived around noon, and as it was Brad's first visit to the area we left the van at the brewery and hopped an Uber into the French Quarter.
Second Line Brewing - New Orleans, LA
In addition to at the brewery, beer is distributed regionally in cans and bottles and can be found on tap at fine restaurants and drinking establishments.
French Quarter Festival was this weekend, which encompasses pretty much the entire vast neighborhood all the way down through the waterfront. On Friday afternoon foot traffic was moderate up near Bourbon Street, but it was heavy crowds as you got closer to the waterfront and the big music stages. The weather was perfect for such an event... a little overcast/partly sunny, around 70 degrees, and breezy. No trace of New Orleans humidity yet. We spent the afternoon walking the Quarter, stopping in some of the freakier shops, had a few drinks, and a great early dinner of etouffee, cajun shrimp, and a monsterous plate of fried oysters that were each the size of golfballs (or larger!). So we were obviously off to a phenomenal start...
After eating we hopped a ride back up Mid-City to get things started at Second Line. The property is mostly a production facility on a cul-de-sac with a large courtyard area out front, which allows them to not only spill out into the street if need be, but also host food trucks without intruding on the courtyard/beer garden's space. On this night there was an operation that arrived earlier in the day to start their crayfish boil, which went on til closing time. Tons of crayfish, red potatoes, and corn on the cob.... only $7 for a pound... and kept them busy all night. The courtyard was filled with locals, as with the brewery being in the middle of a residential area Second Line pulls a solid following from the neighborhood.
The brewery started in October of 2016, and has been growing steadily ever since. In addition to the beers on tap at the brewery, they also can several of their flagships. As you look at the brewery from the courtyard, to the right is an elevated loading dock, which for music opens up to become a rather cool elevated stage, where the artists play about about head-level to the audience in the courtyard below, and the shiny stainless steel brewing facility forms a backdrop behind the band/artist, with colored lights forming a sort of reflective lightshow off the vats... and on this night a cool breeze blew right into the stage, making for a very comfortable setting all night.
The beers... Second Line has a nice variety of styles, and all of them were rather well done. I don't think I can recall a dud in the bunch, and I sample more than usual tonight (for reasons that I'll get into later...). My notes aren't clear on the sequence of my consumption, so I'll just speak of them in terms of what was particularly memorable and/or enjoyable for me. Batture Blonde (5.3%) is a very nice, crisp blonde ale which I do recall is the brew I started with. I was rather thirsty after setting up, and this was a good way to cure it. Golden and bubbly on the pour with a foamy head, it had a slight breadiness, just a touch of bitterness, and a nice dry finish that made it extremely drinkable... this would be a fine session choice on a hot day.
My next pint they actually advised me against drinking, as I had told them I generally don't like Belgian wheats... A Saison Named Desire (5.6%), which was a blood orange Belgian Saison... but I went for it anyway because I love blood orange... and it was pretty great. Again, a refreshing quencher perfect for a summer day (or Spring, in muggy New Orleans), the blood orange gave it a fantastic aroma and flavor which coupled nicely with the Belgian spiced flavor that I normally don't care for on it's own. This is a fine example of why sometimes you should just try the thing that you might normally not like.
Queen of New England (6.9%) was another exceptional brew, and the only high-octane beer on the menu. A double IPA with heavy citrus overtones, a nice dose of bitter, and a rather creamy texture, this somewhat hazy orange pour was a real delight for an IPA fan, although obviously as a double it might be a bit much for those who shy away from heavily hopped beers. I loved it.
The last beer I had was the Irish Stout (6.6%) which was exactly what it claimed to be... a rather authentic Irish stout. Creamy, touches of coffee and chocolate, and nice dark, nearly black pour and a thick tan head, it was exactly what I was looking for to wrap up the night.
As I mentioned in last night's blog, my son Brad is with me for this run of shows, and the next two beers were his favorites of the night, which I only had sips of, but he raved about.
His favorite was the Yeah You Ripe (4.1%) peach tart, which not only blew him away, but surprised him in that he's not much of a peach lover, and he hadn't tried many sours, but he greatly enjoyed the sour and how the peach provided both the sweet and sour without being over powering. He started raving to me about this one while he was drinking it, and was still talking about how much he enjoyed it the next day.
Brad's other favorite was the Coffee Blonde (5.3%). Traditionally we've seen coffee infused darker beers, but a year or two ago coffee started making it's way to the lighter end of the beer spectrum, and we had our first experience with this at Sierra Nevada's taproom. Brad isn't usually too big on porters and stouts, so the coffee infused trend has been a mixed bag for him, which made tonight's Coffee Blonde a new experience, and one he really enjoyed. Despite the lighter beer, the end result still delivered a nice balance of the blonde's flavor and the coffee, without the coffee being too dominant, or the body becoming too creamy, or the aftertaste too coffee-bitter. Brad says this is the best coffee brew he has had so far.
Second Line's crowd was very enthusiastic about the music, and friendly. We enjoyed great conversation before and after our show, and sold quite a few albums and t-shirts, which is always great. The staff was also great, as was owner Mark Logan, who not only booked us but also let us camp on the property after the show when our hotel arrangements had fallen through.
When you're in the New Orleans area, and you want to get away from the tourist traps and hit a great locals joint, I'd highly recommend you start at Second Line Brewing. And if you should still be in the neighborhood, there is also a fantastic little breakfast/brunch joint just a few blocks away called Cafe Navarre that's worth the stop! As I previously mentioned, our hotel situation fell through, so we camped in the tour van at the brewery, which allowed us to sleep in the next morning, and we rolled into Cafe Navarre around 10am for a great breakfast and exceptional coffee.
After that we headed down to the waterfront for the next gig at NOLA Brewing, where we had a 3pm gig...
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