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Food & Drink

Jazz Fest for the Craft Beer Enthusiast

Bayou Beer Garden (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Jazz Fest is great for music, food, strawberry lemonade, mango freezes, and iced teas, but not great for beer. The festival is sponsored by Miller Lite, which means that’s what you’ll see most often. You can find Abita Amber, Blue Moon, and Pilsner Urquell if you look hard enough, but honestly, for six bucks (plus tip), my advice is to enjoy the delicious non-alcoholic options and then head out afterward to get your beer on. This also helps with dehydration issues, so honestly, beer snobbery is good for your health. 

Immediately after festing, check out one or more of these places, all located in the Mid-City area. 

The Bulldog Mid-City (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Where to Find Craft Beer After Jazz Fest

The Bulldog Mid City 

The Bulldog is one of the best beer bars in the city, and it’s accessible by cab, bike, or streetcar from the fairgrounds. They have more than 50 beers on draft, and after a long day outside, I recommend trying something like Gnarly Barley’s Catahoula Common, Saint Arnold Boiler Room Berlinerweiss, or Southern Prohibition Suzy B, all of which are local or regional beers.

If you’re looking for something a little heartier, Unibroue Maudite, New Belgium La Folie, or Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas IPA should sate your craft beer thirst.

MOPHO

This modern Vietnamese restaurant across from City Park has a great beverage program. The locally focused beer list, with beers from NOLA Brewing, Parish Brewing, Yalobusha Brewing in Mississippi, and others pair perfectly with the addictive crispy chicken wings with lemongrass and ginger, fried oysters with pickled blue cheese, pork belly pho, or pepper jelly-braised Cedar Key clams with lamb lardo, mint, crispy shallot, and annatto beignets.

Twelve Mile Limit 

This low-key and comfortable bar with cheap craft cocktails has several beers on draft and a large canned beer program. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day of festing. Check out the barbecue (try the loaded tots) as well as a pool table and one of the best jukeboxes in town.

Bayou Beer Garden 

This is a great place to chill out with a beer in hand, especially if the weather is pleasant. There’s indoor and outdoor space, and beers from breweries like Lagunitas, Brew Dog, and Founders, in addition to local beer. A casual and jovial space to have a pint.

Pearl Wine Co. 

The adjoining bar to Pearl Wine is a hidden gem, and may be the best bet if you’re not feeling like interacting with humans for a little while. Select any of the numerous bottles from Pearl’s selection to quick-chill, and enjoy in the elegant environment. Pearl Wine also has a few beers on tap. Owner Leora Pearl Madden is a craft beer enthusiast, and her selection and attention to detail shows it.

Beer Respite Elsewhere

Once you’re out of Mid City, there are several places in the French Quarter and the Uptown area that are easily accessible. Any craft beer nerd would enjoy investigating these as part of his or her visit.

The Ole Saint

This bar right off Canal has the largest American craft selection in the French Quarter, with 50 taps and a Southern-influenced menu (try the rabbit pot pie). Note: pints are pricy, but if you hit it at Happy Hour (3-7 p.m., Monday-Friday), the beers are two-for-one.

Evangeline

Evangeline has a great list of local and regional beer, a beautiful bar, and an amazing courtyard oasis. They also serve food.

The Avenue Pub (Photo: Paul Broussard)

The Avenue Pub 

Jump on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar and hit one of the best beer bars in the country (according to the many national accolades it’s received over the past five years). The Pub‘s well-curated draft list and knowledgeable staff provide a world-class beer bar experience, plus it offers a killer grilled cheese. You’ll find beer here you won’t find anywhere else, especially imports from Germany, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and the UK. Sour fans will love seeing beers from Tilquin, Trois Dames, and Drie Fonteinen on the draft or bottle list. Do not miss.

Courtyard Brewery 

Another must-stop on the New Orleans craft beer tour. Courtyard opened last year and serves its own beer alongside guest taps of high quality craft. Extremely casual and laid back, Courtyard also hosts food trucks around the weekend (Thursday through Sunday), although it is now open seven days a week.

NOLA Brewing

The big daddy of the beer scene here, NOLA Brewing offers NOLA Blonde, Brown, Hopitoulas, Rebirth Pale, and Irish Channel Stout all over town. But if you go to the source, the tap room features variations on the brewery’s regular lineup as well as test batches the brewers are looking for feedback on.

With a new sour room and production of its sour beer in full swing with the release of Arabella, the first of its NOLA Funk series, NOLA Brewing never disappoints for wild, tart, and funky beer. And it’s just as fun as it sounds. Note: during Jazz Fest, the brewery’s popular Friday tours are cancelled, but the tap room is open for its regular hours.

Lagniappe

Also keep in mind: Wood Pizza Bistro and Taphouse for pizza, a great patio, and a long tap list in the Warehouse District; about 50 canned beers in a cozy environment at Black Penny in the French Quarter; and Junction in the Bywater for burgers and beer.

For brewpubs, Crescent City Brewhouse is right on Decatur and mostly sticks to German styles, as does the New Orleans location of Gordon Biersch, right next to Harrah’s. Both places do experiment with other styles, however.

Of course, it is a visitor’s imperative that they eat excellent food for dinner after festing. Here are a few places to hit for amazing food with a great beer list. 

Boucherie 

Up in the Riverbend is a restaurant making some of the best food in the city with one of the best beer lists to boot. The owners both love beer and are particularly attuned to how the flavor profiles in the food intermingle with the beer on the menu. With five beers on tap and a great selection of bottles, Boucherie’s got you covered for delicious food and beer.

Cochon Butcher

Just around the corner from Chef Donald Link’s immensely popular Cochon (which also has a great beer list) is the more casual Cochon Butcher, which serves up small plates, charcuterie, and sandwiches with a wide selection of local beer.

Ancora

This places is a bit of a trek away from downtown, but it’s on the Freret corridor crammed with great restaurants and one of the best cocktail joints in town (Cure). If it’s Neopolitan pizza and great beer you crave, Ancora is where you need to go. Some of the best food in town, paired with more than a dozen beers on draft, means this will be a meal full of happiness.

Borgne

In the mood for seafood? Perhaps the classic oyster and beer combo? Look no further than Borgne, which presents delicious culinary interpretations of the best local seafood. Borgne also has a great beer program, with about a half dozen on draft as well as another 50 or so in cans. If you go for happy hour (3-6 p.m. every day, even weekends, except for Tuesday, when it’s extended to 7 p.m.) all beer is $2, with $5 tapas. That’s a full night of awesome for under $20. The beer is a hoppy Kolsch style made with Louisiana rice. Light, thirst quenching, beautifully made, great hop aroma.

Nora McGunnigle is a freelance beer, food and travel writer in New Orleans, where she focuses on the unique food and beer culture of Louisiana and the Gulf region. Her work can be found in publications like Beer Advocate, Thrillist, and Eater NOLA. You can often find her holding important meetings at the Avenue Pub or Turkey and the Wolf. Follow her on Twitter at @beerfoodtravels and keep up with her work at beerfoodtravels.com

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