Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beer lovers in New Orleans

Unite! Or something.

I have some people coming from out of town in the next couple of weeks and I have been thinking about places that beer lovers would enjoy an amazing New Orleans experience. Here are some thoughts:

BARS:

GOLD MEDAL: Avenue Pub: Anyone who has read this blog before knows that I spend a lot of time at the Avenue. Plain and simple, they have a large and thoughtful (and amazing) beer selection. Local stuff, Belgian stuff, great American Craft stuff... if you want to get your beer geek on, this is the place to be.

SILVER MEDAL: places that have fun atmospheres and decent beer lists. Bulldog (Uptown and Mid-City), Bayou Beer Garden, Rendon Inn (Broadmore/Gert Town), Twelve Mile Limit- primarily an amazing cocktail bar but with a small but eclectic beer selection. d.b.a on Frenchmen. Crown & Anchor in Algiers (just hop the ferry!), Finn McCool's in Mid-City, and Cooter Brown's uptown. Also check out the Bridge Lounge on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District.

BRONZE MEDAL: places that are primarily not about the beer, but have a couple surprises: Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone (they usually have the Abita Select, which is not too fascinating to locals, but can be a nice alternative for beer drinkers who want to ride the rotating bar), Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, Maple Leaf (Riverbend), Le Bon Temps Roule (Uptown), Tipitina's Uptown.

RESTAURANTS:

Though several of the above will have some yummy food to go with your beer, here are some places that are all about the food first, and has some great beers to go along with it.

GOLD MEDAL: Boucherie in the Riverbend, and Crescent Pie & Sausage Company in Mid-City.

SILVER MEDAL: Luke in the CBD- Heiner Brau does their house lagers. See also: The American Sector, another John Besh. Coquette has a decent bottled beer selection, for sure. Capdeville in the CBD/Warehouse District. Irish House in the Lower Garden District.

BEER STORES:

GOLD MEDAL: Stein's Deli is the one that's always brought up first, and for good reason. Dan Stein has an amazing collection, and it's always ALWAYS worth a wander. It won't take long, the area where the beer lives is small but DENSE. Cork & Bottle: I love this place for its extensive selection and space to move. It's a great place.

SILVER MEDAL: Whole Foods for the best grocery store selection and Breaux Mart for challenging Heiner Brau to can their Kolsch and promising to sell it in their stores.

BRONZE MEDAL: Rouses- pretty decent selection if you're looking for something nice to drink with dinner that night and occasionally, if you pay attention, something interesting might be mixed in there.

OTHER AWESOMENESS:

NOLA Brewing: this is the only brewery we have in the parish. They do amazing beers and are growing like nobody's business. Their slate of year round beers (Brown, Blonde, Hopitoulous, Seventh Street Wheat) and seasonals (Irish Channel Stout, Flambeaux Red, Hurricane Saison, plus a new Smoked Oktoberfest that is yet to be debuted) are available now on draft and in draft packs (you can find them at the grocery stores mentioned above). But they will soon be opening their canning line which will expand their availability exponentially. They have brewery tours every Friday at 2pm, and I highly recommend them for any beer tourist. If you see them on draft anywhere, order it, and consider the place you're at a decent place to find a beer. For example, Parasol's in the Irish Channel carries NOLA Blonde, and while I did not include them as a beer destination bar, it's still noteworthy.

St. James Cheese Company: I didn't know if I should include it with restaurants, because they serve food, or stores, because they sell food, but they are true believers in pairing cheese and beer and will be happy to talk to you about it!

Brewstock: Homebrew supply store. Is excellent... owner is very friendly and happy to help.

Websites: well, this one of course! Also the Beer Buddha and Beer Advocate.

Advice: if you are in a regular bar which will definitely be serving Abita, I recommend asking if they have Jockamo IPA or Restoration Pale Ale. They aren't amazing beers or anything, but you have a decent chance of getting them at many bars.

Stuff outside of New Orleans!

Breweries: Abita, Heiner Brau/Covington, Bayou Teche, Tin Roof, and Parish Brewing

Also, The Barley Oak on the North Shore.

Chime in with your thoughts and suggestions!

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