Over the past six years, local beer festival NOLA On Tap has raised more than $1 million for the Louisiana SPCA. While doing so, it’s grown into the largest beer event in the region. It attracts visitors from all over the country as well as Europe (France and the United Kingdom), Australia, and the Dominican Republic. There’s even a couple from Scotland who arranged their honeymoon to coincide with the event.
“It’s a different style of beer festival than others,” organizer Jeff Elizardi says. “It’s not only a celebration of beer, but also a celebration of New Orleans.”
In addition to the almost 400 beers served by home brewers and professional breweries, NOLA On Tap offers music from Darla and the Hip Drops, Stoop Kids, and Flow Tribe as well as Mardi Gras dance groups.
For the dogs
NOLA On Tap has always been very dog-friendly, which makes sense considering it’s organized by the LASPCA and the pup-friendly pub, The Bulldog. This year, dog amenities will go to the next level with Barktoberfest, a collaboration with local doggie daycare Canine Connection. There will be a separate puppy wonderland with water, shade, costumes, and “Pupular Speed Dating” for five-minute sniff sessions with pairs of dogs (with humans).
The event has grown every year, along with the costs associated, such as fencing, security, EMS, and even ice. For the event on Saturday, festival organizers are instituting a $5 entrance fee for the first time to help cover the expenses.
Another operational change debuting this year is the use of RFID wristbands instead of drink tickets. Using this technology will solve several problems of years past, such as running out of paper tickets early (not to mention the litter caused by them). Also, the money put on the wristbands can be used for food, bottled water, and other beverages, effectively turning the wristband into a wallet for everything.
The wristbands also connect to an online portal to see which beers have been purchased and add to the account if necessary. Any unused money will be refunded to the attendee’s credit card or can be donated to the LASPCA. Cash can be used as well at the front gate for one of the packages offered.
About those brews
New technology and canine amenities aside, the most important thing is the beer!
Attendees will find pretty much every beer available in New Orleans at the event, including local breweries and brewpubs: NOLA Brewing, Great Raft, Urban South, Bayou Teche, Chafunkta, Covington Brewhouse, Tin Roof, Parish, 40 Arpent, Mudbug, Second Line, Abita, Old Rail Brewing Company, Crescent City Brewhouse, and Gordon Biersch. There will be specialty beers in the VIP area (which is a $25 ticket and includes a separate area and early admission.)
One of the unique and most exciting aspects of NOLA On Tap is the large number of home brewers pouring beer and participating in Beer Judge Certification Program-sanctioned home brew competition. “We’re always trying to modify and improve the home brew section,” Elizardi says.
Local favorites Half-Hearted Brewer, Sticky Foot Brew Co., and the Crescent City Homebrew Club will pour beers, and festival attendees have the opportunity to vote for three beers for the People’s Choice using their RFID wristbands. This year, all the home brewers will be in the same area, under one tent, sponsored by Craft Kettle, a local brew tank design and manufacturing company.
Having businesses, bottle shop 504 Craft Beer Reserve, and new beer tour company NOLA Brew Bus involved with NOLA On Tap really shows the growth of the local beer scene, Elizardi says. “It makes everything feel more official.”
What you need to know:
- NOLA On Tap is on Saturday, September 24. VIP admission begins at noon, general admission starts at 1 p.m.
- The location is at the City Park Festival Grounds and is easy to get to from the Canal Street/City Park streetcar. Recommend public transportation, taxi, or ridesharing options; parking is hard to find, plus, it’s a beer event.
- General admission is $5 (kids 12 and under are free) and VIP admission is $25. All beer, food, and other beverages will be purchased with RFID wristbands with money added either online or in person with credit card or cash (cash can only be used at the event ticketing area).
- Beer samples are between $1-3 and food averages $5-10.
- Bring sunscreen and blankets/chairs, and be sure to stay hydrated.