Before Lent

Stephanie and I had been working all morning in separate rooms in our house.  She was cloistered upstairs in our office toiling on some year-end reports going to the numerous officials in the states we are distributed in.  I was downstairs answering the one hundred and seven emails I had let pile up during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Everyone’s been busier than the proverbial one legged man in a butt-kicking contest at our petite farmhouse brewery.  Along with our friends at Valcour records, my family just released our first seasonal/collaboration project.  Our side of the collaboration was of course a beer – one that we have christened Courir de Mardi Gras.  Courir is crafted in the style of a Biere de Mars, a centuries old style of French farmhouse ale.In France this style of beer is brewed in pretty-small batches on farms, thus insuring that not many of them are imported to the states. While we brewed multiple small batches of the beer to refine the recipe, designed the packaging, and labored to get everything approved by the Feds and States we distribute to, the guys at Valcour were busy working on the companion cd, the Best of Valcour Records, Volume I.  It was a lot of work, getting the CD and Biere out before Mardi Gras, but I think everyone’s gonna dig it -the CD and the beer are both a lot of fun, and tastefully perfect for Mardi Gras get-togethers.

Just before Christmas we also released the last of our LA-31 series of beers.  At New Orleans’ famous Rock and Bowl we helped put on a fantastic evening to raise money with (and for) our good friends at Louisiana Folk roots – they do so much in the preservation and promotion of our Cajun culture.  At that party (fabulous music guests Corey Ledet and the Lost Bayou Ramblers) we released our newest beer – Mello Dubbel.  In collaboration with Mello Joy Coffee we are crafting a Belgian Dubbel style beer that is spiked with their signature, dark French-roasted, and very Cajun coffee.

Umm, not to brag, but both beers are pretty freaking good.

We’ve also been working on the new brewery; currently framing in and sheet rocking the tasting room and production offices, and also a lab.  We are likewise are doing all of the planning and wiring and plumbing to get ready for the brewery equipment coming later this year.

And working on some other, top-secret beer projects.  Arnaudville is fast becoming the Area 51 of beer.

So, Stephanie and I had been laboring all morning, separated like we each were in solitary.   If we absolutely had to communicate, it was by shouting at each other up and down the stairwell.

We had not shouted a kind word to each other all morning.

Dorsey was on the road working with our distributor in Biloxi for the Top of the Hops festival coming up on the 28th of February.  Byron was draping theneck hangers on bottles of our Courir de Mardi Gras beer.  These hangers allow for the free download of two songs from the Valcour website.  Cory had been working away on some new packaging changes for some of our core brands, plus starting work on the next – way too cool, and top-secret seasonal.

Stephanie and I had skipped breakfast – opting for a couple of tall mugs of Dark Roast Mello Joy coffee.  Nearing noon, my beer belly started to announce that it was empty – but I still had about seventy emails to answer – and new ones coming in.

“Damn, I’m hungry,” I said out loud.

Stephanie still clicked away at the computer upstairs

I shoved enough of the piles of papers and old mail, samples of barley and marketing products, and the accumulated reminders of everything we had to get caught up on that covered our kitchen table aside -just enough room for two place settings.

Then I went into our ice box.

I emerged with a couple of Honey Crisp apples (worth all of the hype), and a too-large stick of home-made venison sausage.  I sliced both, and then washed some bon-bon sweet grape tomatoes dressed with nothing but a little sea salt, and set them on a very nice platter of  mixed olives, Brie cheese,and some very nice crackers. Even with the backdrop of unfinished work, the platters piled high with food started to calm me and my increasingly impatient stomach.

I called up to my overworked and severely underpaid partner – it was past time for her to take a little break.  While I waited for her to get to a stopping point, I pulled out two bottles of Courir de Mardi Gras beer from the back of the fridge, and poured them into a couple of fancy-pants Belgian beer glasses.

Being a French style of beer, of course it appreciated being on the same table with the casually arranged platters of food.  When working out the recipe, I did not foresee how well this francophone ale would pair with all of the disparate flavors of a cobbled together lunch – not only did it pair with each unique food, it united them.  I was in foodie heaven, wearing a little black beret and stereotypically laughing like one of the French cartoon characters in Ratatouille.

Freshly sliced straight from the garden tomato is tough to pair with many beers, near impossible with wine – but the Biere de Mars laughed at the tomato pairing throw-down.  I’m bummed that this beer is only going to be available until Lent – just before we start harvesting the really great tasting tomatoes from our little spring garden.

Stephanie and I enjoyed our respite – we mocked the ever-increasing size of our inboxes while eating and drinking leisurely. I tried to convince her that a second Courir de Mardi Gras Biere would maximize our afternoon’s efficiency.

She didn’t buy that, but she didn’t argue too much either.