Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Well I woke up Sunday morning

With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.

And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,

So I had one more for dessert.

The opening lyrics of Sunday Morning Coming Down by Kris Kristofferson (though I think I’ve only heard the Johnny Cash version of the song) pretty much sums up how many brewers start our Sabbath morning. Saturday nights are usually pretty busy for us, meeting the folks interested in our crafted beers at beer festivals and dinners, hanging out at the bars and nightclubs that have our beer– and of course it would be rude not to throw back a few pints with fellow beer enthusiasts.

Also the occasional night cap when you finally make it home.

A Sunday morning hangover is a common, work-related injury of the brewing profession. I guess it is something we all learn to not only live with, but develop our own cures for.

I don’t so much have a cure, but I do have my own Sunday morning hangover routine. I wake up pretty early and quietly trudge downstairs, dragging my bare feet to our still dark kitchen. On our breakfast table there is a tiny little AM/FM clock radio that I tune to KRVS 88.7, the public radio station in Lafayette. On Sunday mornings from seven to nine is one of my favorite radio shows – Le Reviel hosted by Louis Michot. Louis is also the violin player and vocalist for the Lost Bayou Ramblers and always plays a great collection of traditional Cajun songs. He also broadcasts the entire show in Cajun French.

If we could get every radio station in Acadiana to carry his Sunday morning show – I would not have to hang-over fumble with the tiny dial on our kitchen radio.

Feeling a little more like myself thanks to the radio’s toe-tapping two steps, I pull out my large, very well seasoned, cast iron Dutch oven and start a batch of couche-couche. It takes all of about thirty minutes to get a batch just right, so about 20 minutes into it I’ll plug in my old General Electric percolator – filled with either Mello Joy dark roast (the strength depending how hung-over a state I am in). The sounds of coffee perking, and the aromas of the frying cornmeal and coffee, along with Cajun French music coming from our little radio takes me back forty years to pre-dawn summers in Grandma and Papa’s little kitchen.

To a time well before I could legally drink beer.

By now my little girl and wife have usually made it downstairs. Sipping from big cups of Café au Laits, my wife and I rush to get the hot bowls of couche-couche to the table. My wife always pours Steen’s syrup on hers, while I prefer two sprinkled on tablespoons of very refined table sugar. All three of us look forward to that magical moment when the couche-couche is sweet and hot and the milk ice cold, and rushing we each swallow the first several spoonfuls because we know soon everything will be tepid and mushy in our bowls.

Those first spoonfuls are Heaven though.

Speaking of Heaven, we have to finish our Sunday breakfast before nine thirty, because Father Brown’s Mass is at ten thirty. Catholics cannot consume anything an hour before Mass (though I think when I was a kid the fast started the night before). Father Brown also has Mass at seven and eight, but I don’t think these times were devised for worshipers who consumed too many pints of craft beer the night before.

Father Brown’s the best and he always gives us enough to ponder on for the next six days – and he also enjoys craft beer and is a great supporter and friend of our little brewery.

His Mass always prepares us for the hard work of the week ahead – and by the time it ends the occupational hangover has pretty much been cured. Our theme song is a little less depressing Sunday Morning Coming Down and something a little more upbeat.

Maybe ZZ Top’s Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers.

Bayou Teche Beers are now available in much of Mississippi, and we look forward to meeting more of our supporters and beer fans there. Great things are happening in the Deep South when it comes to craft beer and I want to give ya’ll a big Merci Bien for helping us be a part of it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Karlos, Byron, Dorsey, Can't Dance...

Back when my father was a young man, rural folks in Acadiana still held bals de maison, or house dances. The men would push the furniture to the walls and sweep the floors, while the women cooked a big gumbo and also some sweet dough pies. Since there were not any dance clubs within driving distance, these rural Cajuns would gather weekly and dance at their neighbor’s homes – until eventually it was their own turn to host one at home. At these house dances there were always dance contests – one for the best two-step, and one the best waltz.

I suspect my dad did not win any of those contests.

My dad tells us that later, when salles de dance (dance halls) started opening in rural St. Martin parish, there were still dance contests, though the halls added Jitterbug, Polka and Charleston categories to the competitions.

For over two centuries the Arnaudville Knotts have been cursed with an unexplainable inability to dance. Oh we love to two step and waltz – we just do not look good doing it. Two left feet does not describe it, unless they were Frankenstein’s feet. My grandfather was a bad dancer, as was his father. My father is pretty bad, as are my brothers. As for me, when I dance I look like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, if he was cursed with arthritis and a strange lack of rhythm.

And Frankenstein’s feet.

And curiously we all married women who love to and are fantastic dancers. I am sure my mom won some of those dance contests back in the day (surely before she met dad). I am sure my grandmother did too, she was also a fantastic dancer. My brothers’ wives, as well as my own could, if they were not handicapped by Knotts as partners.

When my brothers and I are sitting around the brewery, talking about those events in our Cajun culture that bisected with drinking beer, one thing that kept coming up (other than Bourée tournaments, trail rides and crawfish boils) was those old-time, Cajun-music driven dances.

So Byron and I did not think it odd when Dorsey and Laurin suggested we sponsor a LA-31 dance off. Keeping alive old Cajun and Creole traditions while enjoying crafted beers is like a Blues Brothers, “we’re on a mission from God” calling for us. Plus no one could accuse us of putting on a dance competition because we wanted to win any of the prizes for ourselves - it is beyond belief that our dancing abilities would allow that.

So put on your dancing shoes (or cowboy boots) and come out and see us this Sunday, February 27th at Whiskey River Landing on the Henderson Levee for the first LA-31 Dance off, presented by Schilling Distributing. We are kicking off at 4 pm with Jamie Bergeron and the Kicking Cajuns. The dance off will have three rounds, ending in a final elimination round to crown the overall best dancing couple.

I hear the prizes are very nice – and will include beaucoup LA-31 biere. While you are there look for my wife on the dance floor – her partner will be dancing like he has on Frankenstein’s boots.