So, Mr. Beer Bitch and myself made it over to the Rusty Nail to find out what the what was with 40 Arpent Brewery. We tried some tasty, unique, and well-executed beers and had a chance to talk to Mr. 40 Arpent himself, Michael Naquin.
Michael has been a homebrewer for 10 years and a small business owner for 6 years, so it just seemed to make sense for him to take this next step closer to becoming a full-fledged brewery. I didn’t get a chance to ask him about the name of his brewery, but I did discover from my friend and yours, Mark Janes, that the 40 Arpent Canal is what is now called the Florida Canal and runs through St. Bernard Parish. Since Michael plans on brewing in Chalmette, that made sense to me. Why not?
This, by the way, leaves NOLA Brewing as still the only brewery in Orleans Parish, although Michael did acknowledge them as being his most direct local competition. Hey, a little healthy competition can only help us all drink more better beer in the long run, right?
40 Arpent has a very small setup right now – he’s starting with a 2 bbl system and is actively pursuing investment to expand to a 15 bbl system (if anyone is interested in doing some brewery investment, you can definitely jump on the train with this, investment starts at $5000 – there are some cool pledge opportunities as well starting at $50.) Michael’s working with Tulane Business School and Idea Village to get the business plan finalized, and the operation funded and off the ground. The rate he’s brewing at now, he thinks he can only brew enough to keep maybe 5 bars in New Orleans supplied, so he’s hoping to expand really soon.
OK, onward to the beers! I was surprised to see so many different beers, including a few lager styles. We discussed his “lagering” process, and he said that he ferments at around 58 degrees and then after filtering he ages/lagers it at 32 degrees for several weeks. He didn’t really consider this a true lagering process when he described it to me, but it sounded to me pretty close to it. Purists and homebrewers who know more than I may certainly disagree, though! (Note: we did not discuss yeasts.) Lagers available for tasting included the Paddle Wheeler Pilsner (4.8% ABV), an Oktoberfest-style Marzen, and an EXCELLENT hoppy lager, called the Duckweed Golden. At 5.8%ABV, it’s a bit burly as far as lagers usually go. It was definitely one of our favorites of the night. He used a lot of low-alpha hops and when serving ran the tap line through what Dogfish Head has dubbed a “Randall” (read here about the general idea about it, but the one that was being used tonight was much, much simpler, see below)
He also had the Rusty Nail Wheat (5.5%) which was a very tasty dunkelweizen, a well executed way to work with wheat (which made up 80% of the grain bill) with a very balanced and sophisticated result, and the Milkmaid Stout, a huge crowd favorite- at 6.4% it was nicely warming on a cool December night and oh so drinkable.
40 Arpent’s pièce de résistance and what will likely be the flagship beer of the brewery is called Keltic Kajun and is, quite literally, a “Red Beans & Rice” beer. He uses Camellia red kidney beans for the color and brewer’s rice for about 10% of the grain bill (along with three other malts). When Michael described it, I was intrigued, but wary about it going into gimmick territory. We had our samples and were quite impressed with it – especially when we were told afterward that it was his first batch of the beer. He plans to make it a little hoppier, and tinker with it a little bit. It was a very good, delicately balanced beer. I’m really looking forward to trying it again soon.
Ah, but when will we be able to try these beers again? Michael hopes to have distribution in place by March. He’s still working to find the best distributor for his small brewery, but is close to finalizing that decision.
In conclusion, I’m really glad we went and had the opportunity to taste Michael’s beers. It’s obviously a labor of love for him to get this enterprise off the ground, and I wish him all the luck and investors in the world. He has a deft touch brewing balanced, quaffable, and delicious beers. I was pleasantly surprised to see the range of styles that he’s brewed already- and very impressed.
If anyone wants to get in touch with Michael to learn more about 40 Arpent, you can email him at michaelnaquin78(at)yahoo(dot)com and/or Like the brewery’s Facebook page.
Did anyone else make it out to the Rusty Nail to try 40 Arpent’s beers? Did anyone make it over to the Rock & Bowl to try the new Bayou Teche beers? Let us know what you thought!