Picture yourself in the Big Easy. It’s a steaming, sultry, freggin’ hot July night, and college kids stagger out of Bourbon Street dives with Irish names to chuck up their happy hour hurricanes. But that’s not what brought you to N’Awlins. You, my friend, are safely inside the House of Blues with a big smile on your face, a belly full of oyster po’ boy, listening to Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown cranking out the “Gatemouth Boogie” on stage. And in your hand is a (second? fifth? ninth?) bottle of Abita Turbo Dog Ale.
This little-known (north of the Mason-Dixon line) beer was one of the most pleasant surprises of my ongoing worldwide beer conquest. Several years ago, I really was the person described above when I spent a week in New Orleans on business (hey, this was advertising!). I was sitting in a nameless, yet awesome, mom-and-pop type restaurant when I saw Turbo Dog listed on the beer menu. You know I couldn’t resist a beer with such a cool name. But that day I got much more than I bargained for along with my turtle soup and spicy red beans and rice—I quickly realized that Turbo Dog was the perfect complement to every Cajun Creole southern-fried spicy-assed rich dish the Big Easy could serve up. Although I tried several other beers during my stay, none were more loyal than my Dog.
Turbo Dog is not a light beer—it’s a little bit heavier than Bass, for example. Deep, rich brown in color, it has a smooth, smoky, chocolate-toffee finish to its flavor, and each bottle tastes better than the one before.
I recommend drinking Turbo Dog with some of the spicier dishes in the Belly—just look for anything that sounds Cajun (like “Cajun Shrimp”…duh) or spicy (“Belly Burning Buffalo Wings”). Turbo Dog is able to stand up to the richest, hottest dishes and still maintain its flavorful integrity. Most surprising, however, is that even though Turbo Dog is a richer, heavier beer, I could always find room for “one more” no matter how stuffed I was with good ‘ol southern cooking. Of course, after five days of eating and drinking at such a frenetic pace, I thought I’d have to check into a hospital. So perhaps it was Turbo Dog’s slightly higher alcohol content (yes, this dog bites!) that made me feel like a champion chugger. I also realized it made me smarter, funnier, stronger and a better dancer.
Turbo Dog is one of several beers brewed in Loozy-anna by the Abita Brewing Company, about 30 miles outside of New Orleans. Abita is a relatively small brewer, so it may be difficult to find in parts north. In fact, their distribution area used to be exclusively in the deep south.
(I once asked Belly Buddy Dave to bring me back a six-pack from his trip to New Orleans. As I recall, not all of the bottles were full when he returned.) However, Abita’s website indicates that New York has been added to the distribution area. So look around and be patient, because you don’t have to hop on a plane or be a gap-toothed slack-jawed shotgun-toting tobacco-chewing “squeal like a pig”-ordering yokel to enjoy this topnotch party blast brew.