Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Beer Buddha Interviews: Kirk Coco of NOLA Brewing

Lucky you dear reader I am backed up with beer reviews and product reviews because that means you get another session of The Beer Buddha Interviews. This time we got a Q & A with the owner of NOLA Brewing Kirk Coco. Pay attention to the answers because he gives great insight to the struggles of breweries in the state of Louisiana due to outdated laws. Enjoy!

1) Louisiana Revised Statutes 26:273 states:

§273. Limitations on the issuance of state permits; exceptions – A. The commissioner shall not: (2) Issue a wholesale dealer's permit to a person or his spouse possessing a manufacturer's permit, retail dealer's permit of either Class A or Class B, or a microbrewer's permit.

As a small brewer how does this hurt your business?

It forces a new brewery to immediately contract with a distributor before it's beer is even on the market. It also does not allow a brewery to have a beer garden or tasting room. Finally, it does not allow a brew pub (such as Crescent City Brew House) to EVER sell it's beers outside of it's restaurant.

Most breweries in the US started as brewpubs or VERY small breweries that self distributed, and then grew big enough to need distributors. By not allowing this growth process, LA is limiting the number of breweries that have started and therefore creating an artificially low number of breweries in the state. LA could support an EASY 20 breweries, as it did in the past.

2) Which fast food chain has the best French Fries?

McDonalds, No competition. However, my favorite fries are the Truffle French Fries at New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood, ummmm. That's a lot nicer than fast food, however.

3) Miller Coors brews approximately 10 million barrels per year. For perspective how many barrels did you brew this past year?

1300 Barrels in 2009 (We didn't start until March.) Miller/Coors can relax for the time being. :)

4) There are currently 4 pieces of federal legislation active in Congress which would reduce excise taxes for small brewers. How can this help NOLA Brewing?

It would allow us to make slightly more money per barrel, which would allow us to reinvest in equipment.... like a bottling line!

5) What is your favorite sno-ball from Hansens Sno Bliz?

Sugar Free Wedding Cake, with Junior Mint and Satsuma as close seconds.

6) How do you feel about online beer sites like and How do sites like this affect you as a brewery?

Good and bad. They raise awareness of craft brewing and the smaller breweries out there (especially However, too many people take their ratings as gospel (myself included) and don't give beers with lower scores a chance. I have found that my tastes don't always coincide with the general public's. That being said, our beers have done extremely well on these sites and I am very happy they exist.

7) Louisiana breweries have been popping up right and left over the last 2 years. What do you see for the future of craft beer in Louisiana?

I hope for a Renaissance of brewing, similar to what Louisiana had prior to Prohibition. The growth of slow food and awareness that local products reduce carbon emissions will certainly help the push for local beers, and Louisiana food products are always the best in the country, so why shouldn't we be producing the best beers in the country as well?


I wanted to answer a few questions in previous interviews:

Voltron. Voltron is the Defender of the Universe... much more powerful than a car that turns into a robot. Also, he has a cool lion for a hand.

Lion-O. He had the Sword of Omens, plus that cool hairdo.

Favorite Macro... You know it: Pabst Blue Ribbon. It won the BLUE RIBBON for Go'd Sake!

A-Team: For style, Mr. T. But overall, Dirk Benedict as 'Faceman' Peck (plus, he played Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica.)


Thanks Kirk! Hope you guys enjoyed this interview!


The Beer Buddha

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Beer Buddha Interviews: Matt McKiernan from Southern Eagle

So I've introduced you to Matt McKiernan before in a past post. He's the dude that left Lazy Magnolia for New Orleans local Bud distributor Southern Eagle. Well I recently had an opportunity to pick his brain for another episode of The Beer Buddha Interviews. Enjoy!

PS Apparently Matt didn't own a TV when growing up since he doesn't know Voltron, Transformers or Thundercats. Seriously Matt?

1. You went from brewery to distributor. For many in the craft beer industry that’s like going from the Rebellion to the Dark Side. Why the move?

It’s actually way more common than people think; the truth is that there is a lot of interplay between the two entities. For me personally, this move was a great opportunity to work for a great company and learn about another side of the industry that I love. Without breweries, there would be no distributors and vice versa.

My experience at Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company was awesome and I would not have traded it for anything in the world. At the same time, it was that very experience that opened the door to this opportunity. I like to think that’s what human beings do…we enter into one experience, learn from it, open doors, etc. The best choice for me was to move on and try something different; to take what I learned from one side of the industry (brewery) and incorporate that experience into another side (distributor).

I was a Religion teacher on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for five years before I came on board with Lazy Magnolia. Howe about that from Rebellion to Dark Side!?

2. What’s your favorite macro beer?

That’s a tough question for a guy with Irish genes who works for a distributor. Growing up on the East Coast, I have always been a Yuengling fan. I look forward to the day when we can get it here in Louisiana.

If I am fishing, I always go for the macro lights of the world. A 30 pack of Natty Light cans is an essential on any boat I ride on. I am not a mathematician, but I did develop a strong and undeniable correlation between the number of trout caught this summer with the number of Natty Lights consumed. It’s pretty amazing actually.

3. Louisiana tends to get skipped over by a lot of craft breweries when it comes to distribution; they’ll be available in Florida and Texas but not Louisiana. Why do you think this happens and what do you think we can do to fix it?

I think that there are a few issues involved here and a few ways to resolve them. All of them take time, and I think we are already seeing some serious progress taking place. The important thing is that we be patient, as it does no good to have every brewery get here when the market is not ready for them.

It takes a lot of money for a brewery to get their products into a new state. You have the obvious factors like licenses, taxes, etc. Then you have to factor the shipping and logistical costs associated with getting your products from A to B. Then a brewery has to consider how their brands will be supported in any given market – will they have a brewery rep working that area? The point is that it’s an expensive venture and the smaller the brewery, the greater the expense.

From the brewery side of this equation, I think their main concern is the craft beer culture. Will the market support their brand? Will it support it enough to make this a good business decision? At the end of the day the small, independent craft breweries have to make money. They want to achieve that by making great beer, but if they cannot pay the bills this is a moot point. If it costs X amount to get into a state, how long will it take to make the return on that investment. In my experience, the brewery HAS to be committed to the area. Having a solid distribution partner is essential, but I tend to think that the breweries that achieve the best results are the ones that support the market with representation, etc.

We are experiencing a very nice, local trend with craft beers in Louisiana and that is driven largely by the new breweries in the state. Abita paved the road many years ago, and now we have a newer slate of locals like Heiner Brau, NOLA and Parish. We also have Tin Roof (Baton Rouge) coming around the bend. All of these breweries are turning people on to the craft segment. This is what drives the craft beer culture, increases the footprint of the craft beer segment and, in turn, becomes a more attractive state for others to enter.

We have to remember that compared to other regions throughout the US (Pacific Northwest for example) craft beer is relatively in its infancy here in Louisiana. The Deep South as a whole has few breweries comparatively to other regions. Other parts of the country have enjoyed decades of having a strong, vibrant and local/regional brewing tradition. The good news is that we are on our way.

The one thing all of us can do is continue to support the small craft breweries and the retailers that sell their products. It is amazing what happens when a consumer steps into a bar or restaurant and requests a craft beer by name. This one act, repeated time and time again has a significant impact on the marketplace.

4. Voltron or Transformers? Why?

Sad to say, but I wouldn’t be able to distinguish between either. Voltron would make a great name for a beer though. If there was a beer named Voltron, I would drink it.

5. What do you see for the future of craft beer in Louisiana?

I touched on some of this in a prior question, but I firmly believe that we are in for a very good run in Louisiana. We have barely scratched at the surface for what we will get to experience in the near future. Again, the local and regional craft breweries will drive the beer culture, but in the meantime, more and more people are turning on to different beers.

At Lazy Magnolia, I never expected people to ONLY buy our beer (or other craft beer for that matter). I did aim for the goal of changing their buying habits just enough to supplement their standard, every day purchase with an occasional craft brand. I just do not think you can expect everyone to turn on to craft overnight. The craft segment does a great job of sampling and getting involved in local events, which are both a highly effective way of communicating the story behind the beer…that is, the people who make it, the facility where it’s made, the beer itself, etc. We have a lot of very supportive retailers who make this part of their business model. It’s a team effort and it’s a good thing for all of us; from brewery to distributor to retailer to consumer. At the end of the day, I think we’ll continue to see more craft brands become available.

6. How do you feel about online beer sites liker and How do sites like this affect you as a distributor?

Good question. I think they are a great resource and serve as a nice educational tool. It is amazing how much information is there and for that, I love them. I actually just used some nice references on BeerAdvocate to get some ideas on good beer bars in Denver. The only problem I ever encounter is when people decide a beer is good or bad based solely on the rankings from the websites. There are a lot of beers that are rated very poorly but sell extremely well. Then there are the beers that are rated very highly but sit on the shelf and collect cobwebs. I just think that a consumer should make up his or her mind based on what they personally think about a particular beer. It is either going to be good (as in they will buy it again) or bad (as in they won’t). I like that the websites serve as an open forum for people to share their experience, but I hope that people take them for what they are…a subjective point of view.

In my opinion, these websites do not affect the distribution chain. The overwhelming majority of beer consumers do not refer to these sites to make their choices. I might review a particular brand to hear some feedback, but that is not going to be a major factor in whether or not I would vote to bring a particular brand in house.

7. If you could be any of the Thundercats which one would you be and why?

I just turned 36, so I think I missed the revolution, but Thundercat would also be a decent name for a beer, as in “I’ll have a pint of Thundercat, please.”


Hope you guys enjoyed the interview! More to come! Keep checking back or sign up to receive The Beer Buddha straight to your email!


The Beer Buddha

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Review: Andy Crouch's Great American Craft Beer

I've never reviewed a book here on The Beer Buddha so be kind.  Usually I read horror novels and that's about it.  I do read beer books and such but more as a learning tool than for fun.  Recently though I was given an opportunity to review Andy Crouch's Great American Craft Beer

Feels really weird reviewing this book.  Who the hell am I to review this guys book?  It's like me critiquing how Drew Brees throws a pass or Fats Domino plays the piano.  Andy Crouch is like the American version of Michael Jackson in my opinion:  great knowledge about beer, great writer and someone I could learn a lot from.  Anyways here goes nothing.

First off the book needs a better title.  It should have honestly been called The Beer Geeks Bible or How To Be A Beer Geek.  This book lays out everything you need to know in order to be the perfect beer geek from history of beer, beer styles, tips on buying beer and storing beer, proper glassware, beer and food pairings and food made with beer recipes.

The really cool part of the book though is all the reviews.  He reviews beers that are fairly easy to get since it is an American craft beer book.  Many of the beers in the review section I've had or would like to get my hands on so it was nice to read.  I wish he had more Louisiana breweries but I think his access to Louisiana beers other than Abita is none so can't hold it against him!

Andy comes across as if he is in a casual conversation with you which I like. The book is very easy to read and extremely entertaining.  Many beer books I've read can get boring but this one doesn't and I attribute this to his writing style.  American craft beer is the future of beer and this book is your guide.


The Beer Buddha

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Up On the Roof Event

Be ready! East Jefferson General Hospital is once again throwing their Up On The Roof beer tasting. I missed last year due to moving to Florida but I went to the year before and thought it was great. Here are the details!

Date: September 24, 2010
Time: 6:30-9:30pm
Where: East Jefferson General Hospital
Ticket Prices: In advance: $30 At The Door: $35


The Beer Buddha

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Orleans Beer Spotlight: Martin Wine Cellar Metairie

As you know I used to work at Martin Wine Cellar in Metairie as an Assistant Manager and the unofficial "beer guy". It was an experience that I enjoyed and learned a lot from. My success at Chan's Wine World and Cork & Bottle are due in large part to my time spent at Martins.

Ever since I left Martin Wine Cellar about a year and half ago I haven't really had to many opportunities to venture back and check out their beer selection. The last time I went it was looking extremely disorganized and the shelves a bit bare. It was kind of disappointing as I feel I had helped turn that selection into one of the best in the city and had also brought a lot of attention to that selection. I went back yesterday to check out the beer selection in order to do this piece and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Not only were the shelves stocked full but the selection was decent as well. I saw some Cantillion, Slaapmutske, Rogue, NOLA draft packs and Stone Brewing just to name a few. The focus seems to be mostly on imports rather than American craft but they have a limited space. They don't have much of a refrigerated beer selection. There is a small cooler in the front of the store though.

They are also throwing some beer events as well. They just did a fall beer tasting and the turnout was incredible with 86 people. Yes, I said 86. PJ Rosenberg stressed 86 so I'll stress 86. They had an incredible selection from Shelton Brothers and other distributors in the area. Hopefully the success of this tasting will encourage them to host more tastings and possibly another beer dinner. Having another player in town other than Steins and Cork & Bottle will really help craft beer grow in New Orleans.

Charles Buchtel and PJ are the two guys taking care of the beer section over there and they are doing a good job. If it were up to me though I think that whole side room would be a beer room. Perhaps take out that wall and install a walk-in cooler. Come on Cedric it'll make you some serious money!! Perhaps something to think about when you reopen the Baronne Street location.

So if you are in the Metairie area and looking for a decent beer selection get on over to Martins! Don't forget to get some of that chicken salad too! Probably the best in the city!


The Beer Buddha

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cicerone Test Being Held at Avenue Pub

OK beer nerds get your thinking caps on. Ray Daniels from will be here to test your beer knowledge and get you certified. This test is extremely hard so be prepared!

From Polly Watts from Avenue Pub:

The second level cicerone test will be administered on Sept 29th in New Orleans. A review class will take place the afternoon before on Sept 28th.
As several of my employees are attending Ray Daniels is giving us a group rate that will come out to about 40 bucks per person for the review class. You do not need to be registered for the test in order to take the review class. This will be a in person, live review class conducted by Mr Daniels.

If you are interested in taking the second level test you may register online. if you are interested in the review course please email me at


The Beer Buddha

PS If you don't know what the Cicerone test is than you shouldn't take it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Octoberfest: New Orleans Style

So it looks like you won't be making it to Octoberfest this year. You're going to miss out on all that wonderful German beer, hot chicks in Dirndls and the massive headache that comes after a night of complete debauchery. You're stuck at home in New Orleans(not too shabby!)and you're itching for some Octoberfest celebrations. Here is a great list of things to do to celebrate right here at home.

1) Deutsches-Haus Hello?! It's the Deutshes-Haus and it's Octoberfest. I don't think I need to say anymore.


Friday, September 24th 4 pm till midnight
Saturday, September 25th 1pm till midnight

Friday, October 1st 4 pm till midnight
Saturday, October 2nd 1pm till midnight

Friday, October 8th 4 pm till midnight
Saturday, October 9th 1pm till midnight

Friday, October 15th 4 pm till midnight
Saturday, October 16th 1pm till midnight

Friday, October 22nd 4 pm till midnight
Saturday, October 23rd 1pm till midnight

2) The Avenue Pub - Looking for some of the best and rarest German selections in town for Octoberfest? Look no further than Avenue Pub. Polly from Avenue Pub had so much to say in her email regarding her Octoberfest selection that I just figured it would be easier for me to just cut and paste it. Here ya go!

Our October fest beers are starting to come in and we are putting them on just a little bit early! It's best to drink these while they are fresh. We will rotate the rare stuff with the great but easier to access beers like Ayinger and Spaten. You will notice some lower prices on many of our imports this year. We have lowered the price on both Schneider Aventinus and Schneider Weiss by $1.50 a pint. Craig and Kimmie will be busy in the kitchen making their German potato salad next week. Look for dinner and lunch specials like Hophenfeffer and German sausages.

The modern draft system beers are first followed by the cask lagers. These beers are expensive and we are trying to keep the cost down. Please don't ask for free tastes. Everything except the Weiss beers can be sold in 4 ounce pours.

Modern draft system beers:

On tap now:

Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Altfränkisch - this märzen's recipe is based on that of the traditional beer made and consumed at this monastery-brewery.
Schneider Aventinus- the beer that turned my mother into a beer drinker. She just calls it 'that beer". It's a wheat dopplebock. Rich lovely and according to The Alstrom brothers a 'gift from god".
Ayinger Octoberfest - the best Octoberfest we can access on a regular basis. From the well loved Ayinger brewery its a classic american octoberfest import.
Schneider Weiss- the best Weiss beer that is easy for us to come by on draft. its an excellent beer, rich with the banana clove Schneider yeast.

On tap as space opens up:

Spaten Munich dunkel Lager - This is a fairly new release into the US market. We had it earlier in the summer and it was quite well recieved.
Kapuziner Weisse - a traditional light and refreshing, unpasteurized weissebier from Kulmbach.
Mönchshof Festbier - this märzen is brewed twice a year: once for Kulmbacher Bierwoche--Kulmbach's equivalent to Munich's Oktoberfest--and once for the Weinachtsfest. Get it while you can!
Mönchshof Kellerbier - a bit more malt-forward and sweet than traditional Franconian kellerbiers, this lager is still incredibly easy to drink.

Anstich Cask Lagers on Firkin Friday

A bit of back story on some of the beers( the names you DON'T recognize). Just like last year we have been able to get some unpasteurized German beers from small and sometimes tiny little breweries in the Francion region of Germany. We are able to serve these because the owner of Weissenhoe/Kulmbacher has made it his personal mission to export these beers to the US. In Europe the big boys run rampant over the small family owned craft breweries. Many of these little places are finding it hard to survive with all the mass produced beer that people are consuming. The owner of Weissenhoe sees export to the US craft beer market as one way to improve his fellow brewer's prospects. He brings his kegs around to these farmhouse breweries and has them filled. They then get stored in his "caves' until they are shipped on one his pallets to the US. Only 225 of these kegs came into the country and we were lucky enough to be on the allocation list with the importer. Most went to big beer markets like NYC. The closet market that got them to us is Chicago and DC. These breweries do not normally distribute outside of their little hamlets.

We got 10 Anstich (named after the region from which they originate) and we will serve them each Friday night at 630 until they are gone. We will tap one or 2 kegs per night depending on demand. They are small gravity cask lagers and they need to be drunk the night we tap them. Each holds about 35 pints of beer. Last year we served 5 of these in one night and they were gone in less than 2 hours. This year we have a few more and we are spreading them out.

We are not requiring RSVP BUT we will accept reservations. Please don't make reservations if you don't plan to be on time. I haven't been given the price on these yet so I can't say exactly how much they will cost. Look for a price between 6 and 7 dollars a pint.
These are the beers in the order we will serve them:

Brauerei Zehender Mönchsambacher Lager - a traditional kellerbier from Mönchsambach, Upper Franconia. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, well-hopped, and utterly drinkable.
Brauerei Sauer Rossdorfer Urbräu - A light, hoppy, kellerbier done in the Franconian tradition by a family-owned brewery just outside of Bamberg.
Brauerei Ahornberger Landbier Dunkel - A slightly unusual landbier in that it's made with dark roasted malts; this one is still dry and goes down way too easily.
Brauerei Bayer Ungespundetes Landbier - Another earthy, dry Franconian lager fermented ungespundet (in an open barrel) at the Bayer keller in Theinheim.
Brauerei Löwenbräu Buttenheim Kellerbier - Not the Lion's Brewery with which you're probably familiar. This one has been in the same family since 1880, passing the brewing tradition along through the generations. This characterful kellerbier is produced in minute quantity, and the care that goes into the brewing really shows.
Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Eucharius Märzen (a.k.a. Monk's Fest) - A 5% festbier from the second-oldest brewery in the world at the monastery in Weissenohe.

3) Heiner Brau- If you're on the Northshore make sure you make your way over to check out Heiner Brau's Octoberfest celebration. I really enjoy his Covington Brewhouse Pilsner!

Covington's Microbrewery

Oktoberfest 2010

A Traditional Bavarian FAMILY Event

226 Lockwood Street, Downtown Covington

5:00 - 8:00 PM, Friday, October 8th

2:00 - 9:00 PM, Saturday, October 9th

Live Music

Bring Your Own Blankets/Chairs and Join Us, Rain or Shine!

Admission is FREE!

German-Style Catering - Covington's Beck ‘n Call Café

On Sale: Covington Brewhouse "Bayou Bock" or "Ponchartrain Pilsner", Strawberry Ale and Heiner Brau Oktoberfest

Wow. Other than the smoking hot German chicks I keep making you stare at I think staying in New Orleans might be a better deal. You save on airfare and your beer selection is frickin' incredible!!! Now we just need hot ladies in Dirndls. And for my female readers I have no idea what you want but I hope you get it too!


The Beer Buddha

Newest Version of New Orleans Beer Map Up

As you'll see up at the top of the site under the header pageI have a page called New Orleans Beer Map.  This should be pretty up-to-date and will include most of the Northshore as well.  If you see that I'm missing anything please let me know and I'll add it.


The Beer Buddha

View New Orleans Beer Map in a larger map

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Football Season is Here!!!! Let Us Rejoice!!!

I'm so excited right now! Tonite kicks off the NFL season with the defending champ New Orleans Saints taking on the geriatric led Minnesota Vikings. Poor Brett Favre. Completely ruined his legacy by being the ultimate flip flopper.

New Orleans right now is a total madhouse with the whole NFL parade thing being held downtown. Tickets for the game are virtually impossible to come by and being downtown for the game is going to be one total cluster.

The great thing about football games(and all sporting events really)is you don't actually have to be in the stadium or tailgating at the stadium to enjoy the game. Having some friends over, drinking some beer and cooking on the grill can be just as fun if not a better experience.

I plan on using the NFL season as an opportunity to have some cool events at my house that'll spread the love of craft beer. Here are some of the ideas that I have planned for this upcoming season:

1) Local vs Local: This can be tricky unless you beer trade as I do. The idea is simple though. You get local beers from your hometown and get someone to send you beers from the town in which your local team will be playing one week. For example:

Teams: New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons

Beers: New Orleans: NOLA Brewing, Abita, Bayou Teche
Atlanta: Sweetwater, Atlanta Brewing Company, Terrapin

You can do a blind tasting and square off and see who wins or just enjoy the beers.

2) Beer and food pairing: You can't have a football party without some food. Most of the time you're cooking on the grill or you got your slow cooker going anyways so you might as well pair some good craft beers with the food. And I'm not sure how you do it in your town but I've seen some amazing dishes being prepared by New Orleans tailgaters so you can do it up fancy or not. I'm still claiming that my Who Dat Roastbeef Poboys I created last year for the Superbowl helped New Orleans win the game. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Oh and paired with Abita Turbodog by the way.

3) Seasonal beer tasting: The fall is one of the best times for seasonal beers in my opinion. You have Octoberfests, pumpkin beers and all sorts of speciality brews being created by craft brewers for the fall. Fall, football and fall beer. It's perfect.

4) Locals only: You can make Sunday a locals only day. In most towns it's not that hard to do. I'm pretty sure every beer store in your area has access to some local beers. Support your local team by drinking only local brews.

5) Craft Beer Showdown: Pick a certain amount of craft beers and imports. Categorize them into 4 categories and creat your bracket. You can make this as elaborate as you want. Each person blind tastes a beer and votes on the beer they like best. Winner advances. Great opportunity to try tons of craft and import beers.

So there are some ideas I had for helping spread the love of craft beer this NFL season. If you want to know where you can get some great craft and import beers in New Orleans read below. If you have any cool ideas to share please comment! I'd love to hear them!

Beer Stores in New Orleans:

1) Steins Deli
2) Cork & Bottle
3) Martin Wine Cellar
4) Acquistapace's Grocery(on the Northshore)


The Beer Buddha