Check out this week’s On Tap column for The Advocate that’s published here.
Road tripping to 8 New Orleans breweries in a weekend
On a recent hot summer weekend, a couple of my favorite New Orleans breweries released new beers at their taprooms. Never one to miss an opportunity, a buddy and I decided to make it an impromptu guys weekend.
What started as a visit to a couple breweries turned into plans to visit as many breweries as we could in the entire city.
The two breweries that were hosting beer releases were NOLA Brewing and Urban South Brewing, two places I’ve visited on numerous occasions. NOLA Brewing has been on a roll of late, with multiple limited release hoppy IPAs making their debut the past few months, and I was determined to go visit the taproom for one of these releases. Urban South seems to have a new taproom-only release every weekend, and while I can’t make it down there as often as I’d like, this seemed like a good idea to kill two birds with one stone.
We began our beercation at NOLA Brewing’s taproom on Tchoupitoulas Street. There was a nice crowd for the release, and the taproom experience is one of the best in the city. It’s a comfortable space, and we settled in at the upstairs bar where there was a smaller crowd. We enjoyed the beer, as well as the smoked brisket sandwich from McClure’s BBQ, which has a permanent spot inside the taproom.
From there, we zipped down Tchoupitoulas a bit to Port Orleans, which unbeknownst to us, was hosting its own beer release of a Mexican lager, called Dorada. There were more people in lucha libre costumes than I ever imagined I’d experience in a brewery. The taproom was nice and cool (this wouldn’t be the case for many of our other stops), and word is the food is delicious.
We checked into our hotel in the Warehouse District before hopping into an Uber (I highly recommend ride-sharing when brewery hopping) for a short jaunt to Wayward Owl, which is situated in the old Gem Theatre in the Broadmoor neighborhood. The theater has been restored and though you know you’re in a brewery; you are definitely reminded of the history of the building. Wayward Owl features an assortment of styles from an English bitter to a coffee brown ale and Pacific Northwest-inspired IPAs.
The next stop was Brieux Carre, in the Faubourg Marigny on Decatur near Frenchmen Street. The interior of this brewpub is tiny. It’s amazing they managed to cram all the brewing equipment into the space and still have room for a few seats at the bar. There’s also a quaint patio, which is where we sat to dive into a couple of their brews. Brieux Carre has some interestingly named beers on their constantly rotating tap list (Pomeranium Fight Club and Sharks With Frickin’ Hazers were my favorite names).
Another short ride brought us to the Bywater district and Parleaux Beer Lab. I really like Parleux’s taproom setup as well as its outdoor area. The inside is larger than Brieux Carre’s, but it’s not huge by any means. The outdoor space offers numerous umbrella-covered tables. There’s a mix of eclectic beers to-go with some of the more popular styles. I highly recommend Foggy Glasses, a New England-style IPA and Saison du Zealand, a saison hopped with New Zealand hops.
Sunday began with a trip to Urban South for its beer release, which happened to be a collaboration with Parleaux. The taproom is one of the most family-friendly around, with bounce houses and numerous games for the kids. While some may scoff at kids being in a taproom, I embrace it. I enjoy seeing families spending time together in a community space, so long as parents don’t treat the taproom as a day care.
We ran into Keith Primeaux, owner of Baton Rouge’s LA Homebrew, at Urban South. Primeaux was taking advantage of a rare day off to do a little brewery hopping of his own. Knowing our time was short, we didn’t get to visit too much, as we needed to scurry off to our next destination.
That stop was Courtyard Brewery, located on Erato Street, near the Crescent City Connection bridge. Courtyard is a no-frills brewpub, but what it lacks in amenities, it more than makes up for with the quality of its beer. Courtyard’s specialty is its super hoppy and hazy IPAs, something I have an affinity for. But fear not hop haters, there are more than just IPAs at Courtyard. Depending when you go, you’re apt to find a Belgian-style blonde ale, a sour ale, an imperial stout or whatever owner and head brewer Scott Wood has decided to brew recently.
The final stop on our trip was Second Line Brewing, located on North Bernadotte Street not far from City Park. This was a laid-back spot, and although the midafternoon sun made the taproom area toasty, the beer certainly helped to cool us off. I opted to try Constructive Interference, which is a beer-wine hybrid that’s sort of like a hopped up Sauvignon Blanc.
Mission accomplished. We hit eight breweries in slightly over 24 hours and had an absolute blast doing so. If you’re not up for that many, you can opt to try one of a pair of bus tours — NOLA Brew Bus or New Orleans Brews Cruise — both of which offer tours of three different New Orleans breweries and beer samplings along the way.