My first Abita Andygator came at the end of my first trip to New Orleans four years ago. A work conference had just wrapped and my slightly hungover self was struggling with the math of whether my delayed flight from New Orleans to Atlanta would arrive in time for me to make my connection back home. I sat down at the bar nearest my gate and saw the Andygator tap handle. Having one might not help the situation, but it couldn’t hurt.
Where I live is awash with Abita beers, but somehow Andygator never lands on the shelves. The brewery underwent a major national expansion in the 2000s, dropping six packs of Turbodog, Purple Haze and Amber nationwide. The latter is as easy to find in the French Quarter as a hurricane, but during my four days in Abita’s home market in 2013, I never found Andygator on a menu.
It poured nicely at the airport and, by request, the bartender put a thick head on it. It was smooth and sparkly, in ways that I have never experienced from a dark beer. By the time I finished my second, I had figured out that my connection from Atlanta to Syracuse had also been delayed. Not only would I make my flight, but I could do so with a stop at another highly coveted item slowly making its way north: Chick-fil-A.
During a more recent trip to the Crescent City this year, more and more bars on Bourbon and Frenchman Streets were carrying it. It was a quality alternative to the rotgut Zombie Daiquiris and Wapatula specials at the fine establishments we entered.
Andygator is as dangerous as the animal on its label.”
Abita calls Andygator a helles doppelbock, though it’s closer to the textbook definition of a maibock. To the eye, it’s an amber-to-golden beer and an intentionally hard pour yields a thick, creamy head. Where fruit esters and sweet malts influence the aroma and flavor of a doppelbock, the Andygator’s malt bill offers grainier scents and tastes. There’s a sweetness detected in the nose akin to the malts of a German lager and, on the palate, these malts influence the open.
The sweetened malts complement the German Perle hops, which add floral and herbal notes to the brew, resulting in a clean, very easy-to-drink beer. In fact, it’s too easy to drink at 8% ABV. The moderately to high carbonation content only enhances the beer, adding some action to it and helping to wash it off the palate. There’s a malty aftertaste that lingers and entices you into having another.
Andygator is as dangerous as the animal on its label; clean drinking and unassuming but packing a serious and deceptive punch behind it.