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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week:" Abita "SOS" Pilsner

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 10, 2010 7:00PM

abita_post_post.jpg By many accounts, both the federal government and British Petroleum have woefully underestimated the amount of oil that found its way into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well. The long term environmental ramifications of the spill cannot be predicted. But, if I can use my experience in the Persian Gulf nearly twenty years ago as a baseline of what to expect, it could be catastrophic.

The oceanographic research unit I was assigned to in 1991 was sent to the Persian Gulf after the cessation of combat operations to help re-chart shipping lanes into and out of the region. Much of the Kuwaiti oil released into the Gulf by Saddam's Republican Guard had been contained by the time we arrived. What wasn't contained eventually morphed into tar balls which sank to the floor of the Gulf, where they covered the plant life and worked their way up the food chain, spoiling the seafood catches of commercial fishermen. The cycle continued for years. If BP, despite its claims, hasn't contained nearly as much oil as was released, this is what Gulf coast residents could face for years to come, only on a magnified scale.

Notable chefs such as Rick Tramonto (who's opening a restaurant in New Orleans) and Tom Colicchio have visited the the Gulf coast and declared seafood there safe. For now, sure. And, while Nature does eventually manage to overcome the fucked-up things Mankind does to her, millions of gallons of crude puts her behind one hell of an 8-Ball. Louisianians who remained after Hurricane Katrina, comparably, are also a resilient lot, including the folks at Abita Brewing.

Abita recognizes the struggles of post-oil spill Louisiana and have released a pilsner, "SOS" (Save Our Shore). Working in conjunction with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, Abita has established a fund where 100 percent of funds raised goes to charity. Seventy-five cents from every bottle of "SOS" sold will go to the SOS Charitable Fund. The beer itself is a beauty worthy of calling Louisiana home. It's an unfiltered Weizen Pils is made with Pilsner and wheat malts. It's dry-hopped with Sterling and German Perle hops. If you're a fan of bitter pilsners with an underlying sweetness, pick it up.

"SOS" is available at Whole Foods and Binny's right now. Small Bar has also created an "SOS" menu pairing the beer with specific dishes. A proceed of the sales from that menu will also go to the SOS Charitable Fund. Heaven on Seven and the Publican also have "SOS" menus ready to roll out, as soon as Abita can stock them with the beer.