Is there a Jazzfest “Season?”

On my bike the other morning I noticed a house with a Jazzfast flag flying. Behind Rouses, a Miller Lite truck proclaimed itself “The Official Drink of Jazzfest.” (Granted, that sign could’ve been on the truck all year) With Carnival Season parading off into storage units does that mean we’re in Jazzfest season? And is there such a thing? Carnival Season involves costumes, king cakes, parties and parades. In the months leading up to Jazzfest are there related celebrations? (I should note that some years Mardi Gras Day is later in the calendar, so the time between Mardi Gras and Jazzfest is truncated.)

The Seasons of New Orleans
I’ve written about how I miss the changing weather of D.C. Growing up, I found the eternal spring-summer cycle in my hometown of Miami dulling. However, New Orleans makes a slightly more differentiated spring-summer cycle by creating seasons of its own, marked by festivals and extended holiday celebrations. My blog-post hypothesis is that these festivals and celebrations create a rhythm to the year and mark time in a way that the city’s slightly colder winter and brutal summers do not.

Fall through start of Winter: Football and Christmas
September in New Orleans reminds me of living in a college town in that the whole city is galvanized by a sporting event. People here are nuts about LSU and the SEC. As a Gator I am always ruffled by LSU-ness of the celebration around here, but am grateful to be around a community that enjoys college football (and the SEC!). It’s a welcome reprise from living in D.C., which is more of a pro-sports town.

I’ve written about the Saints excitement many, many, many, many, many, many times. But this year marked the first time I watched a LOT of the NFL. It feels like you have to here, or you’re left out of cultural conversation and references. I used to only spend Saturdays at the bar to catch my college team. Now it’s all bar, all weekend… and I guess that’s New Orleans in a microcosm.

New Orleans also does a great job creating a festive Christmas atmosphere. The French Quarter Festival and The New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation organize Christmas New Orleans Style, an annual citywide celebration of New Orleans holiday activities. The festival started 27 years ago, as way to attract visitors to the city at a time when tourism traditionally dips. Throughout the month there are events around the city that remind you of the season. And even though we have had a mild winter, walking through the French Quarter in December felt like Christmas.

January-February/March
Carnival Season

March-May
March is marked by St. Patrick’s Day, April by the French Quarter Festival and then Jazzfest in April/May. That’s more than enough, but I point you back to my hypothesis: Is there something that unites the season?

Summer
Now that I’ve nearly lived here a year, I recognize summer as the city’s downtime. The summer, like the spring,  is punctuated by festivals and regular events, some of which I’ve blogged about here: 610 Stompers, Satchmo Fest and White Linen Night, but there doesn’t seem to be one element that captures the city’s excitement.

Update: Seasonal Beers 3/1/12
Upon relaying this post’s topic to my boyfriend, he reminded me of seasonal beers. We are lucky to have a number of great local breweries, including LA 31, Covington Brewhouse, Tin Roof and Lazy Magnolia. However, Abita is the line I’m really familiar with, and the release of their seasonal brews always mark the season for me.

January-March: Mardi Gras Bock
Spring: Strawberry Harvest
March-May: Red Ale
May-September: Wheat
Summer: Satsuma Harvest Wit
Fall: Pecan Harvest
September-November: Fall Fest
November-December: Christmas Ale

When my boyfriend and I moved into our Uptown sublet in June, our summer landlord was kind enough to leave us some Strawberry ale in the fridge. When we moved out we bought a pack of Satsuma ale for her– a remnant of the New Orleans summer she had missed.

NOLA Brewery also releases seasonal beer, but I’m not as certain about the seasons they’re out because they’re a relatively new brewery. As far as I can tell:

Fall: Smoky Mary
Winter: Irish Channel Stout
January-March: Flambeau Red Ale (for Mardi Gras)
Spring: Hurricane Saison

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Recycling in NOLA Update: Abita Cans Arrive this Weekend

Updates
I’ve got more information about topics I’ve written about here on the blog

Back in July I wrote about the state of recycling in NOLA. In the post, I mentioned that Abita, the most well-known local beer, only come in glass bottles, which you cannot recycle in New Orleans. That’s all in the past, now! This Saturday, Abita is hosting a bar crawl in celebration of the release of cans of Amber, Purple Haze and Jockamo IPA– just in time for Mardi Gras!

NOLA Brewery, which I toured last XX, released cans of its awesome NOLA Blond last October. On February 15, their Brown Ale will debut in can form.

Baton Rouge’s Tin Roof beer is also available in cans.

NOLA Blonde in cans, purchased for research purposes only.

The plastic rings are also recyclable!

Beads and Beer: Recycling in NOLA

The shrine to Abita that I had in my DC apartment.

This May, recycling finally returned to post-Katrina New Orleans. You can recycle paper, plastic, metals and cardboard. But not glass.* Recycling is costly, and glass hasn’t proven economically viable. It’s hard not to cringe when contemplating all the glass that must be thrown out around here, considering how much alcohol is consumed in this city. Abita, a local brewery (and by far the most pervasive beer in the city), comes exclusively in glass bottles.

The sublease I’m staying at until August cannot accommodate recycling; the subleaser says that the city has strange rules about condominium recycling. Accordingly, my boyfriend and I have been dropping off our recycling at Whole Foods. On our first trip there we discovered a bin for recycling Mardi Gras beads. This seems very New Orleanian. The city doesn’t provide a service found in most metropolitan areas, but understands the necessity to wash and resell the bartering commodity of Mardi Gras. It’s these little aspects of the city that make me roll my eyes… and then smile. It’s a backwards place, but there is charm in the aspects of the life only found here.

NOLA Brewing
There are some local companies that are thinking smart about recycling. NOLA Brewery recently announced that it will begin selling its beer in cans! On Friday, we went to the NOLA brewery for their weekly tour and our tour guide said the company purposefully chose cans because they can be recycled in the city. He acknowledged that people look down upon canned beer, but advised that all beer (whether from a glass or bottle) tastes best when poured into a pint. The beer cans should be on shelves around the city in the 4-6 months.

The taps at the NOLA brewery

In a city where Abita is king, NOLA Brewery has already made their presence known. They started in 2009 with two brews, NOLA Blonde and NOLA Brown, and have added two more year-round brews and four seasonals. Many of these beers are available in bars and restaurants throughout the city. Our tour guide  said that the company hopes to saturate the local and regional markets before they can begin to establish a national presence.

Although I love those Abita bottles (see: shrine picture above), maybe I’ll switch to Abita on tap.

*You can drop off your glass for recycling at Target and at NOLA Glass.