Both appear to have been influenced by Courtyard’s bare-bones approach to the beer drinking experience, eschewing fancy digs for utilitarian furniture like picnic benches or folding chairs. The casual vibe is dog- and family-friendly, with only on-site offerings like taproom-only brews and food trucks. You can even chat with the owners and brewers while enjoying a relaxing beverage freshly made about 10ft away from you.
Meet who’s making your brews
The background of the brewers of the four breweries and two brewpubs in the city is intriguingly diverse. Peter Caddoo at NOLA Brewing has a culinary and restaurant background and also worked at the city’s last large regional brewery, Dixie (which closed in 2005). Crescent City Brewhouse’s Wolfram Kohler is a certified German brewmaster, who worked in breweries in Germany and Belize before coming to New Orleans more than 25 years ago. Scott Wood at Courtyard homebrewed for years, while Urban South’s Wes Osier worked at Coors, Sweetwater, Terrapin, and received certification from the Siebel Institute’s Master Brewer program in Germany. Sonny Day at Gordon Biersch is a former brewery owner; and Gar Hatcher at Second Line has brewed throughout the regional area at Bayou Teche and Lazy Magnolia.
The next wave of breweries are diverse and numerous. Lafayette native Justin Boswell -- who is in the process of opening Wayward Owl Brewing in a historic building in the up-and-coming Uptown area -- spent many years in the Seattle area, and worked at Black Raven Brewing in Redmond for much of that time. He and his wife decided to come home to contribute to the growing New Orleans beer scene.
Regarding his Pacific Northwest craft beer pedigree, Boswell said, “Forget about where I came from, that’s what I’ve been telling people lately, I learned a lot, and I gained a lot of experience that I’m very proud of, but I say: Forget everything you know, it’s time to do something new. This is Louisiana beer, this is not Washington beer.”
New Orleans area native Robert Bostick will open Brieux Carre Brewing Company, just outside the French Quarter, next year. Bostick grew into homebrewing and wanted to flex his entrepreneurial muscles building a business while doing what he loves. His seven-barrel brewhouse and taproom will be the first brewery in the Downtown area in more than 10 years and will be right in the middle of the action of the famed music clubs on Frenchmen St.
Parleaux Beer Lab will be the first brewery in the Bywater neighborhood when it opens next year. Owners Eric and Leah Jensen moved to New Orleans in 2001 and envisioned a family-friendly neighborhood gathering space like ones they loved back home (in Grand Rapids, MI and Denver, CO respectively). Eric plans to brew in small batches and experiment with his beer, and the tap room has a large private outdoor space with dozens of citrus trees.
In its own way, the New Orleans brewery scene is becoming as eccentric and diverse as the people who live here. Beer as a culinary component is becoming a regular occurrence -- the legendary and wine/cocktail-focused Commander’s Palace even began serving locally brewed beer and other microbrews this past year. Likewise, Galatoire's and Arnaud’s have both hosted beer dinners in their annex locations. Evidence of everyday enjoyment is everywhere -- in the corner store where before you could only get 40s, grocery store selections, as many local and national craft cans as domestic cans during Mardi Gras parades.
It’s Louisiana beer. It’s a part of the cultural fabric here now, and it happened organically on its own terms. We’re not Portland or San Diego or Vermont; we do things at our own speed, in our own way. But now that it’s rooted deep, New Orleans and Louisiana beer culture will continue to thrive for years to come.
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