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Food and Beer Pairings at Boudin, Bourbon & Beer Fest

Emeril Lagasse Foundation's Boudin, Bourbon and Beer festival at Champions Square. (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Boudin, Bourbon & Beer is quickly approaching – November 3 in Champions Square – but there’s still time to get yourself organized, and get your tickets. And organization is key. Not only will there be diverse interpretations and selections of boudin, (made with oysters, fish, turducken, corned beef, and crawfish, and pork) but there are also non-boudin items, like the pig-pickin’ party from Aaron Burgau, (Central City BBQ) and Nathanial Zimet (Boucherie/Bouree), the “pork temple carbonara” from Sac-A-Lait’s Cody and Samantha Carroll, and fried ribs with bourbon caramel, courtesy of Hayley Vanvleet of the newly opened Curio.

One must also consider the beer pairings. Abita’s been a sponsor of this event from the very beginning (this is BB&B’s seventh year running). They’ve always offered a wide variety of choices, from their flagships to their Bourbon Street limited edition barrel-aged series, to special cask conditioned ales.

Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Boudin, Bourbon & Beer Festival (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Here’s what to expect this year:

Multiple bars and beer trailers will be dispensing Amber, Big Easy IPA, The Boot,  Turbodog, Andygator, Purple Haze, Strawgator, Abita’s new 30° 90° Citra-dry hopped lager, Christmas Ale Seasonal, Peach Lager Harvest Seasonal, and Horchata Turbodog Select.

There will be a special area featuring the Bourbon Street Series collection, which this year seems to be geared toward cocktail flavor profiles. So over here, you can have your beer AND your bourbon cocktail in one glass. (Good thing you only have two hands.) Check out the Old Fashioned Pale Ale, Mint Julep Pale Ale, Whiskey Sour Pale, Rock and Rye, and Maple Pecan. You can also find cask-conditioned versions of the Bourbon Street Series Maple Pecan in the large, main beer garden along with tons of other beers: Rum Barrel Aged Pecan Ale and Coconut Barrel Aged Maple Pecan.

Now, you don’t have to do this, but pairing beer with food is an excellent way to go, and there are multiple beers to pair with dishes and flavor profiles. I asked three chefs what beer pairings they recommend with their dish, and this is what they had to say.

Mopho and Maypop

Chef-owner Michael Gulotta will offer crispy smoked boudin served with roasted apple raviolini. “It’s a melting pot dish, like everything we do,” he says. “The small ravioli will be filled with roasted fruit, topped with brown butter, parmesan, and the smoked and crisped boudin. There’s also a little fish sauce on there,” he adds. “Because it’s us.” Gulotta suggests pairing this “umami punch in the face” with Big Easy IPA. “It needs something brighter, it needs those citrus notes, to balance it out.”

GW Fin’s

Chef Michael Nelson plans to present a more radical dish – a sheepshead boudin made with the fish’s meat and liver, topped with fish skin cracklins. He recommends pairing his dish with what he thinks is one of the forgotten Abita beers, Turbodog, which has been around for a while and happens to be one of Nelson’s favorites. “With the liver, my boudin is kind of like a dirty rice dish, with a lot of richness,” Nelson says. “The Turbodog can hold up to that intense flavor as well as the heat of the boudin.”

Gov’t Taco in Baton Rouge

Jay Ducote will soon open Gov’t Taco in Baton Rouge and appropriately so, will serve up a boudin taco with his Jay D’s Louisiana Molasses Mustard and pickled vegetables. The pork for the boudin is braised with citrus juice and chiles before combining with the rice. Ducote thinks that the bitterness of Abita’s Wrought Iron IPA will go great with the taco, taming the chile heat in the pork and the cayenne in the mustard. The hop aroma and flavor pairs well with the citrus notes of the braise, and the acidity of the fruit and pickled vegetables is well soothed by the underlying malt and bitterness.

Based on the full menu of boudin options and significant list of Abita beers, I have some suggestions about pairing, or at least the thinking behind pairing. 

Amber:

  • As a super food-friendly beer, the Amber is a very versatile beer to pair with almost all of these dishes, so it’s a pretty safe bet to start with. That said, I especially like the thought of pairing the Amber with Mike Ruoss and Richard Papier from Arana’s 16-hour smoked brisket with chorizo dirty rice and corn cream.

The Boot:

  • Alex Harrell (Angeline): pork liver pate with pickled pear and turnips, oat crumble, and pork rinds. The Boot is a light beer made with oats and wheat, which will balance out (and even perhaps unite further) the rich pate, the acidic fruits and vegetable, the salty pork rinds, and the savory oats. I also suspect this would be a good beer to pair with many of the dishes at the event.

Christmas Ale:

  • Tory McPhail (Commander’s Palace): foie gras rice crispy treats. Sounds like a winner, with the dark sweet maltiness and spices paired with the sweet-savory dish.

Peach Lager:

  • Tori Rawson (Bayona): baklava with poached apple and burnt honey. The peach lager seems like a nice dessert beer, sweet yet light and crisp. I think it would pair well with a dessert dish.
Boudin Corndog at Boudin, Bourbon & Beer (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Andygator:

  • Dustin Brien (Public Service): crawfish boudin corndog with shishito mostarda and green onion slaw. Abita swears that this doppelbock pairs perfectly with anything with crawfish, so let’s put that to the test.

30° 90°:

  • Nathan Richard (Cavan): tuna poke boudin spring roll with monkfish liver, caviar, and popcorn rice. There’s a lot of salty richness going on here, and the crisp, light, hoppy taste and mouthfeel of this new lager will pleasantly clear the taste buds and palate between sips.

Horchata Turbodog:

  • Isaac Toups (Toups Meatery, Toups South): boudin burrito with pedrov pepper crema and cilantro. The rich Latin flavors in both food and beer will surely complement each other well.

Strawgator:

  • Richard Sutton (St. James Cheese Company): Kasekrainer cheese sausage. Strawgator’s said to pair well with cheese and this sausage has cheese running all through it.

Bourbon Street Series Old Fashioned Pale Ale:

  • I’d go for Carl Schaubaut (DTB)’s Japanese influenced boudin musubi, which is boudin surrounded by rice studded with bits of pork rinds and made with jalapeño apple butter. This pairing sounds like a swing for the fences – it’s either gonna be superb or awful. A much safer pairing might be Will Avelar and Bergen Carman (Meril)’s fried rice pudding

Bourbon Street Series Maple Pecan:

  • Adolfo Garcia and Adrian Chelette (Ancora): sanguinaccio dolce napoletano, which is a rich chocolate dish made with blood. It’ll be simple and complex, and I think the flavors in the maple pecan (wood, vanilla, maple syrup) will complement it nicely. Happy Boudin, Bourbon & Beer festing!

Nora McGunnigle is a freelance beer and food writer in New Orleans, where she focuses on the unique food and beer culture of Louisiana and the Gulf region. Her work can be found in publications like Beer Advocate, Thrillist, and Eater NOLA. You can often find her holding important meetings at the Avenue Pub. Follow her on Twitter at @noradeirdre and keep up with her work at NOLAbeerblog.com

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