Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Cheap date Wednesday: A review of the Abita Brewery
Last week, before I fell re-ill to some pesky malady that has cozied up in my tonsils, the hubby and I went to the Abita Brewery in Abita Springs for a tour. Or so we thought! We showed up on time for the last scheduled tour, 2 pm, and were confused to see the parking lot jammed with cars. I mean - are educational tours THAT popular? At first we thought we were in the wrong place, since our GPS was telling us to drive further. But I generally doubt GPS addresses in rural areas (once we got hopelessly lost in - I kid you not - Blood River thanks to reliance on GPS outside city limits). Then when we approached the building, I saw a sign that stated that the last tour was at 1 pm. We conferred in consternation and decided to ask an employee. Now the closest employee was within the building's patio, which was CRAMMED with people. We squeezed in and started to ask if this was the right place for the tours, if there still was a tour, etc but the man spoke very little English. Basically all he could say was "ID?!" We proffered our ID's and he slapped wrist bands on us. I repeated my questions and he barked "Stand here!" and pointed so...we stood there. The hubby and I decided that this must be some sort of beer tasting, since I could not imagine this crowd showing up for a brewery tour. We decided to just wait and see. After all, we were stranded on the Northshore with nothing else to do! Suddenly we were swept into a herd of humanity surging off the patio and into the building, with plastic cups being pressed into our hands. Grumpy workers shouted, "Pull the taps all the way, if you don't know what you like just pick one! Move along!" The next thing I knew I was standing in front of beer taps and helping myself to an Abita red ale. We were in a large room with a bar and some seating and a ton of people. We sat down to taste our beer as other chugged and got back in line for seconds. Then one of the grumpy employees told us all to shut up while he played an educational video and if we talked he'd throw us out and 10 minutes into the video they were shutting the taps down, so be forewarned! We dutifully shut up and the swarms of people again flocked to the beer line. When the video finished, lo and behold! Grumpy employee shouted that the tour was about to start, so if you didn't want to learn anything take your beer and go, otherwise follow him. About 75% of the people left! Meanwhile, the hubby and I were pleasantly surprised to hear that we were getting a tour after all. We lined up for a ten minute jaunt into the brewery during which time we stood under a steel vat while grumpy employee shouted into a megaphone that this is where they add the hops. That was it. Then it was a stampede back to the "tasting room" for one more run at those taps before they closed exactly 45 minutes from when they first opened the door!
So obviously the ABita Brewery Tour has been discovered by native Northshorians, and has thence degenerated into a beer free-for-all on Saturday afternoons. Or as my hubby put it, forced binge drinking. In fact, many of the attendees appeared to be on dates. Now that's a cheap date! If you're fast, you can down 4 beers for free!
It was a totally hilarious experience, especially the earnestness with which some people crowded into the line over and over. If you have a good sense of humor and don't really care that much about learning about beer making, go for it.
While you're at it, pick up some Abita Strawberry, quite possibly the best beer ever created.