In 2013, the Louisiana legislature passed a resolution creating Louisiana Craft Brewer Week, highlighting Louisiana breweries’ contribution to the state economy, the multiple medals and honors awarded for their beer, efforts to promote responsible drinking laws and policies, support of a three-tier distribution system, commitment to the local environment, fundraising in the wake of natural disasters, utilizing Louisiana-grown agricultural products, and creating beer ”designed to compliment and therefore highlight our extraordinary Louisiana cuisine.”
Back then, there were only six breweries in the state; now there are 26. And every one of those breweries celebrate their industry alongside their growing legions of fans and supporters during the last full week in September.
LaCBW is a great time to reflect on the state’s growing beer industry by supporting local brewers and beer bars. And there are several more breweries in the works, like Wayward Owl, Parleaux Beer Lab, Flying Tiger, and Breiux Carre, as well as Freret Beer Room, a beer bar. It’s really not too difficult these days to make every week Louisiana Craft Brewer Week, but still, we’re real glad the legislature decided to make it official.
2016 Louisiana Craft Brewer Week
At the Avenue Pub
This year, the fourth Louisiana Craft Brewer Week (LaCBW) is from Sept. 18 until the Sept. 25. The Avenue Pub will host a kickoff party on Sunday, Sept. 18 with Bayou Teche Brewing, who will debut A Giant Hop For Mankind IPA v 2.0. A Giant Hop For Mankind is brewed 3-4 times a year, according to Bayou Teche co-founder Karlos Knott, with each version showcases a different hop profile. This batch was brewed with Simcoe, Motueka, and Cascade.
Knott & Co. will also serve up some Cajun goodies to enjoy with their beer. Although the menu has not been announced yet, previous years have seen jambalaya and a whole hog roast in a “Cajun microwave.”
The Avenue Pub will host other Louisiana breweries throughout the week. Owner Polly Watts says, “for years during American Craft Beer Week we’ve turned over all our taps to American-made craft beers. We’ve always wanted to do that for [LaCBW] but up until recently there just weren’t enough options. Our state finally has enough breweries and beer options available that we can turn over just about all our taps to Louisiana craft.”
Wednesday, Sept. 21 will be “NOLA Night” at the Pub, with special beers like Tart of Steel dry hopped tart wheat; Darkest Before Dawn dunkel lager; ALS Farmhouse IPA, made with experimental hop blend, with proceeds going toward ALS research and support; double dry hopped Hopitoulas IPA; bourbon barrel-aged coffee chocolate stout with cocoa nibs and coffee; Arabella peach sour; Sauvage dry hopped Brettanomyces beer, and others still to be determined.
Gnarly Barley will be at the Avenue Pub on Thursday, Sept. 22 with their brand new Brightside IPA, their newly retooled Radical RyePA, and Imperial Korova Porter. Great Raft will be onsite to present the newest version of Oceans Between Us Bretanomyces IPA dry hopped with Galaxy as well as the latest release of All My Tomorrows hoppy saison, dry hopped with Mosaic. Other beers available will be double dry hopped with Commotion, You, Me & Everyone We know barrel-aged American wild ale, two Old Mad Joy bourbon barrel-aged vintages — one in Pappy Van Winkle barrels and one in Heaven Hill barrels — and bottle pours of their award-winning, mixed-fermentation saison, Farmhouse Slang.
Other Beer Bar Events
Check out other area beer bars for LaCBW events as well:
The Bulldog Mid-City will host a “Beignets & Beer” pairing on Tuesday, Sept. 20 and pour Urban South’s limited edition Grapefruit IPA (prior to this, it was only available in the brewery’s tap room) and new seasonal Octoberfest Marzen on Wednesday. Thursday, Sept. 22 will bring another favorite food to pair with beer: bacon. “Bacon & Beer at the Bulldog” will feature praline bacon, peppered bacon, and pancetta. Friday night is Abita night, which will feature the brewery’s Bourbon Street barrel-aged Series and other Abita beer. All events take place between 6-8 p.m.
At Bulldog Uptown, try the hard-to-find Parish Rêve coffee stout on Monday and equally difficult to find Great Raft Farmhouse Slang saison on Tuesday. Both those tastings start at 7 p.m. Wednesday is “Pint Night,” during which customers can keep their pint glass, and Abita will be on site with several offerings. On Thursday, try NOLA Brewing’s Arabella peach sour beer starting at 8:30 p.m., and Friday will be Urban South night starting at 8 p.m.
In Metairie, also part of the Bulldog’s family, Lagers will feature beers like Urban South’s Grapefruit IPA, 40 Arpent’s Duckweed IPA and New Basin stout, and Covington Brewhouse’s Rock & Roll Summer saison, seasonal Fest beer, and Strawberry ale.
Ale on Oak Street
Ale on Oak Street will feature NOLA Brewing’s specialty beers Tart of Steel and Darkest Before Dawn on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at a special price if one orders them both.
In the Bywater, Junction will supplement its already significant Louisiana-brewed beer selection by doubling the number of taps dedicated to local beer, and from 8 p.m. until midnight all week, all Louisiana beers will be a dollar off.
Second Line Brewing
Take the opportunity this week to seek out all local breweries at the source. Second Line Brewing will throw a first anniversary party on Friday, Sept. 23 from 5-10 p.m. with live music, food trucks, and special beers. But they are also open throughout the week with their new, expanded hours: Wednesday-Friday beginning at 4 p.m. and weekends beginning at 2 p.m. They have growlers, six-packs, and 22-ounce bombers to go, and host a movie night every Wednesday.
Urban South’s newly expanded hours are Thursday through Monday, opening at 4 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. over the weekend, And, every day the taproom is open to the public, customers can partake in a free brewery tour at 5 p.m.
NOLA Brewing’s spacious tap room is open every day from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., with food provided by McClure’s BBQ, and a wide variety of taproom-only specials. In Arabi, 40 Arpent’s taproom is on the verge of completion – check their social media for news and hours. They do have free tours on Friday in the meantime, from 5-7 p.m.
The Courtyard Brewery
The Courtyard Brewery is open every day and serves up delicious beer brewed by owner-brewer Scott Wood. Wood’s partial to hoppy beers, but don’t pass by his more subtle styles such as ESB, saison, and Mexican light lager. Courtyard has food trucks in its lot pretty much every night, and as the weather cools, the outdoor seating becomes more and more palatable.
Even more breweries
Also check out downtown brewpubs Crescent City Brewhouse and Gordon Biersch for fresh beer made on the premises.
Across Lake Pontchartrain, there are several more Louisiana breweries to explore: Abita and Covington Brewhouse in Covington, Chafunkta Brewing and Old Rail Brewing Company in Mandeville, and Chappapeela Farms Brewery in Amite, and Gnarly Barley in Hammond. To the west in the Lafayette area, Bayou Teche is in Arnaudville, Parish Brewing is in Broussard, and Cajun Brewing is in Lafayette. Head south to Thibodeaux for Mudbug Brewing and up to Baton Rouge for Tin Roof Brewing and the new Southern Craft Brewery.
There are now breweries in every corner of the state, from Lake Charles to Shreveport/Bossier, to Monroe. There’s even one (Broken Wheel Brewing) in the middle of the state.
Local restaurants are also a great place to find Louisiana beer. Head up the Canal St. streetcar to check out Vessel, which offers beer from Urban South, Parish Brewing, and Chappapeela Farms Brewery. Or take in the burgeoning food and culture scene on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd at Primitivo, which has beer from Chafunkta, NOLA Brewing, and Bayou Teche. Take the St. Charles streetcar all the way past where the river bends to enjoy Boucherie’s cuisine and selection of local beer, including Great Raft, Chappapeela Farms Brewery, Abita, and Second Line. Even fine dining restaurants like August and Commander’s Palace are providing well curated, upscale beer lists that include Louisiana beer.
Beer dinner pairings are happening during LaCBW as well. On Thursday, September 22, there are three around the city. Primitivo is collaborating with NOLA Brewing for a five-course dinner for $60. Kingfish chef Nathan Richard is pairing Louisiana beers with a variety of alligator preparations for a five course dinner for $45. And Besh Steak is doing a five-course dinner with Lazy Magnolia beers for $65. OK, Lazy Magnolia isn’t a Louisiana brewery, but they’re just right over the border there in Kiln, Miss., and have been in the beer market here for a very long time.