Every January, the search down south commences—who’s carrying crawfish already? This year, there was an accompanying quest: where to find Bayou Teche’s Saison D’Écrevisses.
The Louisiana brewery’s newest release is entirely in the spirit of the season. Saison D’Écrevisses is a Belgian-style Saison brewed specifically for crawfish pairing. In fact, it started as an experimental brew used for crawfish boils right on the brewery site (Bayou Teche even boasts crawfish ponds on its property).
Strangely enough, the search for Saison D’Écrevisses gets as tricky as seeking out mudbugs themselves. It’s only available locally on tap and in 22 oz. bottles. So while you can find Bayou Teche’s LA 31 Biere Pale and LA 31 Boucanee just about anywhere, repeated trips to Whole Foods and the regional grocery stores ended in disappointment. And sure, the few true beer bars in New Orleans eventually put it on tap (Avenue Pub or Prytania Bar for example), but that’s not the ideal scenario. Saison D’Écrevisses is meant to be purchased right before picking up an order for boiled crawfish and heading to the nearest patch of grass. Maybe you even pour some into the pot if you boil the bugs yourself.
Of all the places where you might expect to find Saison D’Écrevisses, I finally track down a bottle in an unexpected spot—a hip wine bar called Bacchanal on the edge of the Marigny that sells bottles to go.
Getting down to business, you eat a crawfish by pinching and twisting where its head and tail meet, peeling then eating the tail but sucking the boil juice out of the head. That liquid gives you a quick taste of what went into the boil, and is typically a spicy combination of pepper, hot sauce and Cajun seasoning. When added to these flavors, Saison D’Écrevisses is divine. If you’re really into crawfish, you may consider the beer as necessary as Crystal hot sauce.
Saison D’Écrevisses has a slightly sour but overall mild nose to it. The first element that hits you is the rye, giving this beer a strong dry component that balances the bite of a good crawfish quite well. Like a traditional Saison, there’s a noticeable hoppy bitterness, but it takes on an almost earthy quality. And despite its legitimate ABV, Saison D’Écrevisses is undeniably light. It can taste like a light beer that’s been doctored with sourness and pepper.
Adding to the challenge here, Saison D’Écrevisses is available only when crawfish are available—January through June basically. And if the weather is iffy like it was this year, the seafood loses a month or two. You can still find Saison D’Écrevisses in that time, but treat yourself and wait until it can be enjoyed as Bayou Teche intended.
Brewery: Bayou Teche
City: Amaudville, LA
Style: Saison—spiked with a generous amount of rye malt and then fermented with distinctive Belgian yeast that gives this beer its dry and peppery finish. The beer is finished with imported French Aramis hops.
Availability: Seasonal (specifically, crawfish season: January-June)