Abita Mardi Gras Bock (again)
Full disclosure: I wrote a short post on Abita Mardi Gras Bock almost two years ago. But let’s talk about Mardi Gras anyway! For full effect, play the video below while reading.
By the time you’ll reading this, it will be Mardi Gras Day 2013. That doesn’t mean much for most of the country. However, in New Orleans it means the city shuts down for a party all day and night. Armed with copius amounts of food, beverages, desserts, and empty bags, revelers dress up in costumes and head to the parade routes for a day of festivities. It’s known as the largest free party in the United States, and for good reason.
However, Mardi Gras is the end of the larger Carnival season. Carnival begins the night of January 6 and lasts all the way through Mardi Gras. The parades typically begin two weekends before Mardi Gras day and run every evening during the week. On weekends, the parades run both during the day and in the evening. The biggest parades occur the weekend before Mardi Gras, with Endymion, Bacchus, and Orpheus running Saturday, Sunday, and Monday evenings starting in Uptown and running through Downtown.
On Fat Tuesday, the main attractions are the Krewe of Zulu, who rolls at 8:00 AM and throws painted coconuts, among other items, and the Krewe of Rex. The king of Rex (most krewes select monarchs to represent them) is kept a secret until Lundi Gras (Fat Monday, the day before Mardi Gras) and is considered the king of Carnival. A couple of other parades roll after Rex and afterward many head to the French Quarter to continue the party until midnight when the New Orleans police sweep Bourbon Street to shut down the street party. Many head back into the bars at this point, and others head home.
Throughout the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, parades also run in many of the suburbs and smaller towns nearby including Metairie and the West Bank (the other side of the Mississippi River from New Orleans). All of southeastern Louisiana gets into the spirit and it’s a very fun time of year.
One of the most popular Carnival foods is Popeyes fried chicken. Popeyes started in Arabi, just outside of New Orleans, and New Orleanians call Popeyes to place orders for Mardi Gras. The restaurants open early and close early, so don’t just expect to walk up to a Popeyes on Mardi Gras day as it will be absolutely packed with people getting their orders.
The essential dessert for Carnival season is a king cake. Think of a king cake as a large cinnamon roll ring covered in purple, green and gold icing. Everyone has their favorite place to get a king cake. Whether it’s from Haydel’s, Gambino’s, Party Palace, Randazzo’s or other places, king cake is delicious. Be careful when you eat it though; a small and usually plastic baby doll is stuffed inside. If you are the lucky one to get the baby, you have the privilege of bringing the next king cake!
So what’s Mardi Gras really like? It’s standing on the sidewalk in all different kinds of weather, eating, drinking, catching beads, doubloons and other throws with your friends and family and generally having a great time. Many attend balls for the krewe they belong to, ride in the parade, and throw all the various items from the floats. Most high school marching bands in New Orleans and surrounding areas march in the parades along with jazz bands that ride in trucks or trailers.
As for Abita’s Mardi Gras Bock, it’s a perfectly good beer, especially for when you’re standing on the sidewalk waiting for a parade. The brownish-orange liquid is topped by a white head that quickly dissipates. Scents of sweet bread and pine in the nose are very similar to the tastes in this one; sweetness up front fades into a mild hoppy bitterness that lingers a bit. Carbonation is medium and the bitterness lingers a bit on the palate. It’s not an incredibly complex beer but it’s one that I like.
Unfortunately, king cake sent by my mother (thanks Mom!) and Mardi Gras Bock are as close as I’m getting to Mardi Gras this year. Hopefully I’ll get back to Mardi Gras soon. In the meantime, Happy Mardi Gras!