Local flavors rule New Orleans, but this old adage extends beyond the seasonal crawfish boil. Today regional brewers join chefs in seeking out the city’s prominent tastes, from the traditional (Louisiana strawberries featured in light sippers from Abita or Covington Brewhouse) to the unorthodox (40 Arpent’s red beans and rice-inspired Red Bean Ale or Mudbug Brewery’s King Cake Ale and Café Au Lait Stout).
Smack dab in the middle of that range sits a new German gose, Provisions and Traditions Volume II. This collaborative project brings together Shreveport, Louisiana’s Great Raft Brewing and the John Besh Foundation, a charitable organization from one of NOLA’s favorite culinary sons (the one with the hair, not the “bam!”). And while the name doesn’t give away what slice of New Orleanian life this beer contains, one sip will provide the answers.
Pop open the 22-ouncer and a welcoming briney, lemony scent emerges. Immediately upon first taste, the lemon is counterbalanced by saltiness. It’s enough so you know it’s there, but the salt won’t leave you smacking your lips and begging for water. This signature ingredient is no ordinary salt as it comes from Avery Island, where a good deal of it presumably stays hyperlocal and ends up in the iconic Tabasco made there. In Provisions and Traditions II, this seasoning helps blend sour and smokiness into a light, refreshing beer that’s ideal for the season it arrives within. It may not be as tart as gose-seekers desire—the “it” style of 2014 is typically bright, mildly salty, low ABV and distinctly tart—but this take on the genre is no less enjoyable.
The quest for local flavor doesn’t end with salt, however. With each Provisions and Traditions release (there will be four in all), Great Raft partners with a specific Besh chef, so the beers have both local taste and a local tastemaker. Chef de cuisine Miles Landrem, of high-end taqueria Johnny Sanchez, contributed to Volume II, ensuring this summer one-off pairs well with taco trucks and backyard grills alike. The only downside with this beer so far seems to be its limited availability.
Brewery: Great Raft Brewing
City: Shreveport, LA
Style: German gose with coriander and Avery Island salt
Availability: Summer one-off