We’re predicting that 2016 will be a year of beer soda frenzy. Not the sugary, commercialized soda that doctors warn us against, but the classic, old-fashioned fountain style (the kind that begs for a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a fresh-off-the-steaming-grill burger). It kind of all started with Not Your Father’s Root Beer, and now we’re seeing Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale. MillerCoors is even slated to release a soda line this year, comprised of Henry’s Hard Ginger Ale and Henry’s Hard Orange Soda. Many brands are jumping on the root beer trend as quickly as the beer will ferment, but one of our favorites did this style with some Cajun influence.
Abita’s Bayou Bootlegger is a “decidedly adult take on the old-fashioned soda fountain root beers of days gone by.” Days gone by and pirates gone by, that is. Its hook of a name harkens the bayou bootlegger himself, Jean Lafitte. Smuggler extraordinaire and French pirate, Jean Lafitte is also known to have nobly taken up arms in defense of New Orleans in the War of 1812.
Jean Lafitte started his swashbuckling career in 1805 when he began selling smuggled goods out of a warehouse. After the Embargo Act of 1807 was passed, Lafitte transferred his business to Barataria Bay, Louisiana. Five years later, the new port was booming and Lafitte saw piracy as the next natural step. He was never naïve nor foolish in his dealings though… Lafitte saw the turmoil ahead and tried to warn other bootleggers and pirates, but to no avail. Most of Lafitte’s fleet was captured in September of 1814. Lafitte, cunning pirate that he was, wasn’t out of commission, though; he later exchanged his aid for legal pardon in a battle for New Orleans against the British in 1815.
Speculation about Lafitte’s life and death still floats around, but it’s clear that he continued to assail merchant ships until his death in the 1820s. Much like the man for which the root beer is named, it’s smooth, daring, and takes no prisoners.
As the label boldly declares, the soda is “brewed with the swagger and rebellious spirit of our most famous pirate.” Louisiana cane sugar sweetened, gluten-free, and enveloped in aromas of wintergreen, vanilla, sassafras, clove and anise, this hard root beer is pure, hand-crafted joy.