166 Barbee Road
Abita. If you’re a beer drinker, you’ve probably seen their beers. They’re pretty popular and easy to come by in almost every single state. We knew we were heading to New Orleans this winter, so it was a given that we would hit up the Abita Brewery at some point. We ended up staying an extra week north of New Orleans at the state park in Mandeville, just so we could swing by and sample their brews. We did… we sampled pretty much all of them.
It all began in 1986 in Abita Springs, Louisiana. The end. It was legendary.
In 1994, they expanded and moved away from Abita Springs. The original place has since turned into an independently-owned brewpub that still serves all of Abita’s beers along with food. We wanted to drink straight from the tap so we headed to Covington to hit up Abita’s official location.
Abita Brewing Company is really easy to find, just outside of Covington, Louisiana. They have lots of signage as you approach in either direction and a huge private parking lot across the street that is big enough to accommodate RVs. Here, they offer guided tours in the afternoons and allow you to take self-guided tours in the mornings. If you’re into wearing the brands you love, they have a very large merch area with a variety of items. The tap room spills out into a patio/garden area with lots of outdoor seating. They serve all of their available beers, including a selection of seasonal and exclusive experimental brews. The building itself is framed in gorgeous wrought iron fencing. We went in the afternoon, so we got to see it in the daytime and at night. It’s equally as beautiful in both settings.
Bring Out The Beers!
Our Reviews Of Abita’s Beer
ABV: 4.2% | IBU: 11
This lager has a light and crisp flavor. The color is almost a self-illuminating golden with a clarity that matches it’s taste. Unlike a lot of other lagers, this one has a distinct bitterness that really sets it apart. The flavor can be a little flat if you pair it with something that has a strong taste, but the mild bitterness should make it enjoyable nonetheless. It’s a very drinkable beer, but not especially memorable.
Shem-Ancient Wet Hop Ale
ABV: 6% | IBU: 30
This beer is special because it is brewed with raw and malted barley, seven ancient grains, and wet hops used right after picking them from the vine. The color is a light and bright golden hue. The flavor is fruity upfront with a bold hoppy flavor as it hits the back of your tongue. It has a sweet aftertaste that, if you close your eyes and focus, tastes like a candy cane without the peppermint. It’s a very drinkable beer and one of the top three that we enjoyed.
IPA – Session / India Session Ale
ABV: N/A | IBU: N/A
This Session IPA didn’t work for us at all. The smell was off-putting and the experience didn’t get much better from there. The flavor was heavily citrus-based, but not in any fruity or pleasurable kind of way. The bitterness of the citrus tasted kind of like dishwater and was unpleasantly followed by a strong onion aftertaste. Definitely our least favorite of all the brews we sampled.
Louisiana Spiced Ale
ABV: 5.1% | IBU: 22
Disclaimer: we generally avoid spiced ales. When our beertender told us about the flavor profile of this particular spiced ale, we were definitely intrigued. The flavor has all of the qualities of a crawfish boil. It’s not an overpowering flavor either. When you first sip it, you taste all the spices, but they don’t choke you on the way down. After a few additional sips, the flavors build and you can start to taste the complexity. It’s definitely a great seafood beer, but it would also be a perfect companion to a bag of regular potato chips. It’s still not overly drinkable and even though we would definitely have one, we probably wouldn’t have more than one.
ABV: 4% | IBU: 10
So one way to tell if a brewery really knows what they’re doing is to try their light beer. This light beer is just what it claims to be. It’s light. The flavor, the color, the calories… all light. But this light beer had an unexpected flavorful hoppy aftertaste (ever so subtly) that sets it apart from other beers in this category. It’s really not bad for a light beer!
ABV: 4.5% | IBU: 17
Abita Amber is a local favorite in New Orleans and can be acquired at pretty much any restaurant in the area that sells beer. One of the things Abita touts is that local Louisiana chefs often use Abita Amber in their recipes. It’s deep, clear, amber color and smooth flavor combine to be a solid, great tasting beer… but there’s more! Mixed into the the flavor profile is the strangest experience. The flavor is reminiscent of the smell of wood and raisins… like grandma’s pantry. The next time you take a sip of Amber, close your eyes, think of raisins, and you’ll experience it for yourself. No wonder why the local chefs love this brew!
Restoration Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2% | IBU: 25
Restoration Pale Ale is one of our favorites. It has a light, slightly cloudy, golden color. The smell starts off really hoppy, but the flavor is a lot lighter and more complex. It starts slightly bitter, followed by a hint of citrus, and then the hops hit. For those of you that don’t like overly hoppy beers, don’t worry, they are not overpowering in any way. It’s is a very drinkable beer.
ABV: 4.2% | IBU: 13
A lot of people like Purple Haze and it’s another one of their popular beers, but this one was not for us. It’s a fruit beer that is made with raspberries, but the flavor comes out tasting more like someone poured a beer into a grape soda. If you’ve ever had one of Montana’s many varieties of huckleberry beers, Purple Haze would be their kissing cousin. It’s sweet, slightly tart, and very fruity. If you like fruity beers, you’ll probably enjoy this, but it was too fruity for us.
ABV: 5.6% | IBU: 28
Turbodog is fantastic. It’s an english brown ale that has a dark brown color, a complex smell, and an even more impressive flavor profile. The flavor is heavy and thick with nut and chocolate notes. When we were in Rochester, New York in the early 2000s, there was this beer called Ithaca Nut Brown. Turbodog reminds us of a summer version of Ithaca Nut Brown. It’s warm and filling without tasting thick or overwhelming. It’s a really great brown ale.
ABV: 5.6% | IBU: 28
The Horchata Turbodog is an experimental beer that they had on tap. Basically, this beer is their famous Turbodog beer mixed with bourbon vanilla beans and cinnamon. It’s a dark and delicious dessert beer that tastes exactly like rice pudding. It’s not something you’d have more than one of, but it’s a great beer to end a nice dinner.
Mardi Gras Bock
ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 28
The Mardi Gras Bock is a seasonal beer that appears once a year around, you guessed it, Mardi Gras season (January to March). It taste a lot like their Amber beer but it’s more bitter. It had a nice flavor. The bitterness cleans the palate in a lip-smacking kind of way.
ABV: 5.4% | IBU: 18
The Chocolate Weisse was not what we were expecting. Even though this beer is sweet with light hints of chocolate, they are lost to a smokiness that overpowers the entire drink. At the risk of sounding rude, it kind of tastes like cigarette water. We were not fans.
ABV: 5.6% | IBU: N/A
The Bourbon-Barrel Turbodog is an experimental beer that the beertender had an open growler of. It wasn’t on tap, but after having expressed an interest in their bourbon-barrel brews, he recommended that we give this one a try. The base of this beer is the Turbodog which is then aged in Jack Daniels whiskey barrels. It’s a little thin with a light bourbon flavor—which was great because many other bourbon-barrel beers can be overpowering. It would be easy to drink a few of them in one sitting. This one was definitely a favorite!
Grapefruit Harvest IPA
ABV: 6% | IBU: 40
Breakfast beer! The grapefruit in this IPA is a subtle flavor that only shows up in the aftertaste. The beer itself is slightly dry and very bitter. The flavors seem like they are coming more from the bitterness of the zested rind rather than the flesh. You can really taste the bite.
ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 52
The Jockamo IPA is a simple IPA. The flavors are dry and bitter, but overall it’s not very hoppy. It’s kind of a middle-of-the-road IPA with nothing really notable about it in either a good or bad way. Surely there are quite a few people who like it, but this was just “meh” for us.
Wrought Iron IPA
ABV: 6.9% | IBU: 80
The Wrought Iron IPA is appropriately named. The smell and the hops are so strong that they merge to create super saiyan heavy metal IPA power. If beer were a person, this guy would be wearing a Slayer t-shirt. Unlike other metallic-flavored beers that are typically reminiscent of copper, this IPA tastes like a mouthful of hop-flavored iron with a hint of onion. It’s unfriendly but delicious. As hopheads, we approve!
Bourbon Street Rye Pale Ale
ABV: 9.5% | IBU: 22
Abita’s Rye Pale Ale is almost trying too hard. As part of their Bourbon Street Series, you can tell that they were going for something that was heavy in whiskey flavor. Unfortunately, we think they may have gone too far. The whiskey flavor is so overpowering that it’s hard to tell you’re drinking beer. That is not to say that this is a bad beer, it’s just only good for one glass and only when you’re really in the mood for a whiskey but don’t want to deal with the burn of liquor.
Bourbon Street Alt
ABV: 8.5% | IBU: 20
Abita’s Bourbon Street Alt is an altbier style beer with a light whiskey flavor. There is a slightly sweet taste upfront just before the taste of whiskey kicks in. It’s smooth and flavorful without being overpowering. Alt has the kind of balance that can stand on it’s own as well as play nicely with other food and drink.
Our Overall Rating For This Brewery:
We really enjoyed our experience at Abita Brewing Company. The beertenders were knowledgeable and friendly. Their selection was vast and had a lot of style range. More importantly, we generally liked most of what we tried. Some of the beers we tried were seasonal and some of them were experimental, so you might not be able to grab everything at the store to try them for yourself. If you ever find yourself in the New Orleans area, it’s worth the day trip to give them a visit. The next time we pass through, we will definitely be back.