By Mike White
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, lives were disrupted
and, in many cases, left in ruins. In the world of beer, hobbyists and
professionals encountered some of the greatest challenges of their lives,
although these of course were far less significant than other
In the wake of the disaster, White Labs supplied yeast
to those who for good reason could no longer acquire supplies through
Peter Caddo of Crescent City Homebrewers was one such
His club met for years at the Deuches Haus on Galves
Street, New Orleans. The building took on five feet of water during the
storm, and the neighborhood for miles was flooded badly, Caddo told us.
In late December, Caddo, speaking for himself but not
for the club, told us, "I know a lot of members were hit real bad.
Myself, I did all right and so did my girlfriend. Just lack of services.
"We have yet received any first class mail,
magazines and such."
He took solace by delving into the hobby he has
appreciated for a long time.
"Iíve been brewing ales with the WLP017
Whitbread Ale Yeast and I love the flavor it gives the beer. A couple of
my beers have storm-related names: Blue Roof Bitter, Slash Mark Amber and
Sheetrock Stout, and they are yummy."
Given his living conditions, he had to endure more
challenges than most homebrewers.
Some of the circumstances he faced actually had
unexpected and not altogether unpleasant results, at least from a hobby
"The WLP833 German Bock Lager Yeast was used to
brew two beers, a Doppel bock and Rauch, both beers were aged at 35
degrees Fahrenheit for three months and then the power went off and my
refrigerators died and I was away for a month.
The beer aged at 95 degrees Fahrenheit and started
another fermentation; the bock got stronger and maltier like the EKU 28
(an eisbock brewed by Kulmbacher Brauerei AG in Germany) and the
Smoketoberfest ended up better also. Now I know how to get that more
maltier aroma and taste that the Andechs doppelbock has."
In a follow up message in early February, Caddo said he
is back working in the restaurant business and that he attended a meeting
with the Mystick Krewe of Brew at the Abita Brewpub recently. He reported
that many members had damage to their homes due to Katrina.
The Crescent City Homebrewers, he continued, had a X-mas
meeting/party in December. Caddo said that he brought some of his beers
that were aged during Katrina. As for the lagers he made with WLP833
German Bock Lager Yeast, Caddo said that after he aged the beers at 35
degrees Fahrenheit for three months (with an additional
"Katrina" month at 95 degrees Fahrenheit) he purchased a new
refrigerator and was able to get them back to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. He is
not sure he would try to redo the experiment of turning a doppelbock into
an eisbock ó unless Mother Nature interferes again.
Another homebrewer, David Reeder, also of Crescent City
Homebrewers, told us, "Please accept my tremendous (although a little
late in delivery) thank you for your generous donation of your companyís
yeast during this time of transition.
"I personally have been using your strains since I
began brewing nearly ten years ago and when Brew Ha Ha announced their
closing I was concerned about where I would obtain supplies. Your
commitment to brewers in the New Orleans area is appreciated and your
partnering with Al Bourg of our group to serve as the local distributor is
also a relief for filling our future needs."
White Labs appreciates the kind words, but those who
went through the ordeal of the storms know better than most that it took
the determination of local homebrewers to keep the hobby alive during
difficult times. They deserve tremendous credit for getting their lives
and their hobbies back in order. We look forward to hearing more stories
of positive change in the region in months to come.
To share your stories, write us.