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Food & Drink

Where to Find the Best Beer in New Orleans

A beer flight on the balcony at NOLA Brewing (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

New Orleans is working on reclaiming its pre-Prohibition title of “Brewing Capital of the South” one brewery, brewpub, and beer bar at a time. Combine the ever-growing number of breweries open in and near Orleans Parish with the fact that they are now allowed to sell their beer on their premises, then add the rich and ever-evolving food culture and the presence of more beer-savvy tourists: it all adds up to a diverse collection of places where great beer can be found. We rounded up some of the best for you here.

Breweries

Between 2005 and 2008, there weren’t any production (non-brewpub) breweries in New Orleans. NOLA Brewing changed all that when they sold their first beers — NOLA Blonde and NOLA Brown — in 2009. 2015 brought the opening of its spacious and comfortable tap room, which has been an important stop for visiting beer lovers.

Courtyard Brewery in the Lower Garden District opened in 2014, but since its beers aren’t distributed to other bars or restaurants, it’s not a production brewery. The house beers are brewed in very small batches, which enables different styles, techniques, and ingredients. Roughly half of the beer available at Courtyard are from “guest” breweries, which makes it a hybrid between a brewery and beer bar.

Urban South (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

In 2016, Urban South Brewing opened on Tchoupitoulas Street near the Convention Center. The large, sprawling warehouse space provides taproom-only beers alongside its flagships, seasonal beers, and special releases that can be found in grocery stores throughout the Greater New Orleans area. Urban South is very family-friendly, with a kid’s play area tucked in a corner, making it a favorite spot for young parents who love their beer.

Right before NOLA Brewing on the 3000 block of Tchoupitoulas, Miel Brewery is tucked a half block up Sixth street on Livaudais. It’s a small brewery which doubles as a neighborhood hangout. Some of their specialties include the Ecto 1, an American Cream Ale brewed with Blue Rasberry Sour Punch Straw candy, and beer slushies made fresh.

Setting our sights on another New Orleans neighborhood, Second Line Brewing in Mid-City is located between the Canal St./Cemeteries streetcar line and City Park. Since it’s the only brewery in the area, it’s a community-focused, dog- and family-friendly spot. Second Line was the second production brewery that opened in the city six years after NOLA Brewing.

Brieux Carre’s hosts a wide variety of beer (Photo: Nora McGunnigle)

Downtown neighborhoods Marigny and the Bywater are starting to catch up with breweries as well. Brieux Carre, just off of Frenchmen Street, and Parleaux Beer Lab at the far edge of the Bywater, opened within days of each other in 2017. Brieux Carre’s location means they’ve got lots of visitors dropping by for a beer to-go while wandering Frenchmen, or to hang out in the beer garden with a sampler of Brieux Carre’s many styles. Parleaux boasts a neighborhood vibe, but visiting beer geeks seek it out too. Both spots offer on-site-only availability, which means you won’t find their beers sold anywhere else.

Just down past the Broad Street pumping station is Broad Street Cider & Ale, which serves its own cider (making it the first and only cidery in the state) alongside a tightly-curated selection of craft beer.

New Orleans East now has its first brewery, also opened in 2017. Royal Brewery names their beers after the many insects that call New Orleans home, and hosts live music frequently at their taproom. The drinking side of the brewery features a mid-century modern style bar, which adds an elegance to the experience.

Brewpubs

For almost 30 years, Crescent City Brewhouse has been the only source of fresh, hand-crafted beer in the entire city. Small neighborhood breweries similar to those in Europe were non-existent, so certified German brewmaster Wolfram Koehler opened his brewery and restaurant in the center of the bustling, historic French Quarter. 

Although Gordon Biersch is a franchise operation with locations across the United States, all beer is developed and brewed on the premises. Brewers are allowed to experiment with new styles and improve upon the traditional German flagships. Its convenient location on Fulton Alley makes it a quick stop from the Convention Center, Riverwalk, and Harrah’s Casino.

Beer on tap at Avenue Pub (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Beer Bars

The Avenue Pub is the epicenter of the New Orleans and Louisiana beer experience and is conveniently located on St. Charles Avenue between two streetcar stops. Although the Avenue Pub has the nationally-recognized cache of an excellent beer bar experience, there are other places that are doing great things as well. Cooter Brown’s has transitioned from old school “import” beer bar to modern craft beer bar with an astonishing selection and beer events in the back bar. Junction in the Bywater offers a great variety of beers to go along with their burgers, and Ale on Oak has an impressive beer selection. The Bulldog family of beer bars has local outposts Uptown/Irish Channel and in Mid-City. 

Aline Street Beer Garden (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Neighborhood bars

There are an increasing number of neighborhood bars that have quietly improved the quality of its beer without making a fuss about it: In the Bywater, check out Bud Rip’s, or the R Bar in the Marigny, while Black Penny draws regulars and visitors alike in the French Quarter. Uptown has several neighborhood bars with good beer lists. Check out Fat Harry’s on St. Charles Avenue just past Napoleon Avenue, or the Milan Lounge and the Aline Street Beer Garden in the Touro district. Mid-City has a wealth of neighborhood joints like Mid-City Yacht Club and Banks Street Bar that boasts better-than-average tap lists. Most neighborhoods will have at least one spot for those seeking a better beer experience — sometimes in places that may surprise you.

Restaurants

Since the flavors of beer are becoming increasingly complex, it only makes sense that chefs gravitate toward beer that complements their food. Even the ultra-traditional Creole grand dame restaurant, Commander’s Palace, has increased the number and quality of its beer offerings. Other restaurants that offer great beer include Boucherie in the Riverbend, Pizza Delicious in the Bywater, Cochon Butcher in the Warehouse District, and Borgne in the Central Business District. 

Freret Street has several restaurants with great beer menus — Ancora, Wayfare, and Company Burger. (Check out Company Burger’s location in the South Market as well — it has an even more expansive tap list).

When looking for beer at home or on the go, check out Craft Beer Cellar in the Garden District on Magazine Street, 504 Craft Beer Reserve in Mid-City on Tulane Avenue, and Pearl Wine Company on Orleans Avenue in Mid-City.

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