The Louisiana beer scene has more than doubled in size over the past five years, with no less than 20 breweries & brewpubs opening throughout the state. Thankfully, a handful of selfless residents have taken it upon themselves to try literally all of them, allowing us to properly sort the good from the almost-as-good.
To compile this ranking, we reached out to 18 beer retailers, writers, bloggers, homebrewers, and enthusiasts in Louisiana, and had them all rank their top five breweries. Each placement had a numerical value attached, and after adding all the data up, this is what we found:
This tiny brewery in an industrial park on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain has four beers in its portfolio: an IPA, a coffee porter, a cream ale, and a red ale. They’re currently working with Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia to expand their capacity and plan to build a much larger facility in the near future. Key beer: Old 504 coffee porter
Baton Rouge’s only hop house features father-son brewing team Tom and Alex Daigrepont, and they’ve been able to get much more creative now that the on-site taproom is open. Key beer: Parade Ground porter
Old Rail is the newest brewpub in the state, pairing brewer Matthew Horney’s beers with brew-friendly dishes. One of the panelists noted that “Old Rail has the most Impressive portfolio as a whole. Their tap list covers an impressive and varied range of regional styles and pulls all of them off deftly.” Key beer: Echo Sierra Bravo ESB
The grandaddy of the modern generation of brewers, Abita is far from kicking back and letting these whippersnappers get all the glory. They’ve created a barrel program, kicked up their cask program, and just released a new, hoppy-as-hell IPA. One panelist, a restaurant beer manager says, “There is something to be said for being the first craft brewery and making a mark globally for craft beer in Louisiana. Their beers are consistent, and they have shown the ability to adjust and adapt to an ever changing beer market.” Key beer: Abita Wrought Iron IPA
This Cajun-influenced brewery, the brainchild of the three Knott brothers, combines beer, food, music, and Acadiana culture with every one of their releases. A beer bar manager says of the brewery, “Bayou Teche has been killing it for some time now, with their focus on a Louisiana-Belgian hybrid format plus an always-alluring rotating selection of seasonal beers.” Key beer: Coteau Rodaire, a sauvignon blanc barrel-aged French ale
As a New Orleans restaurateur notes, “Courtyard Brewing is a small nanobrewery churning out big flavors.” He adds, “So much has been said about south Louisiana being hesitant to accept hoppy beers, but don't tell that to the people who pack Courtyard night in and night out.” Scott Wood and Lindsay Hellwig’s brewery also serves guest taps and Wood doesn’t stick to just IPAs, he also has been branching out to ESBs, wits, and saisons. Key beer: Lonesome Traveler series of single hopped IPAs
Open for less than two years, this skateboard punk-tinged brewery started by husband and wife team Zac and Cari Caramonta has been putting out some of the most consistently solid beers in the area. One panelist, a Baton Rouge food/beer writer, says, “They may be small, but each beer I try from them is on point. I never get tired of drinking their beer. They're the only brewery to me that has a fully developed personality.” Key beer: Korova Milk Baltic porter
Several panelists indicated that their vote for NOLA Brewing -- the first post-Katrina production brewery in New Orleans -- was driven by the brewery’s new NOLA Funk sour beer series which has produced four sours, all packaged in 750ml bottles. A beer festival planner and panelist notes, “NOLA Brewing is a place you must visit because of their ever-changing lineup at the tap room.” Key beer: Piety, a wild ale aged on cherries in red wine barrels.
Parish’s Ghost in the Machine double IPA is the highest rated beer in the state, and the frenzy of acquisition that occurs upon its release is something never before seen in this market. “This is one beer that lives up to the hype,” one panelist says. “The Grand Reserve barleywine and Imperial Reserve imperial stout are both phenomenal, and worthy of whatever praise is heaped on them.” Key beer: Ghost in the Machine
The majority of the panel identified this two-year-old brewery in the Northwest corner of the state as having the best, most consistent beers -- both their flagship lineup as well as their seasonals and special releases -- in the state. One panelist states, “Great Raft is without a doubt, the most impressive Louisiana brewery. Everything they do is right: the beers, the branding, the design of their taproom, the way they handle their business.” Another proclaims, “The focus on quality is readily apparent. Even this self-proclaimed ale lover really enjoys their bottom fermenting beers, from the dark and roasty, yet easy drinking Reasonably Corrupt to the Southern Drawl pale lager. Their At Arm's Length IPL would be the best single IPA in the state, if it was actually an ale. All My Tomorrows is a hoppy saison, that rivals the best in the country.” A bottle shop retailer says, “Clean, balanced, and stylistically spot-on, I can always put a six-pack of Great Raft in a customer’s hands and know they will be happy.” Key beer: Hard to choose, but Commotion pale ale
Our illustrious panel of homebrewers, writers, bar owners/managers, local beer retailers, beer reps of non-local breweries, and well known local beer enthusiasts:
Formed in 2011was formed by a local couple over their passion for craft beer. With small batch brewing and this business being family operated there is a real local feel to the tours and the tasting at this brewery.
Around since 1986, this brewing company offers two IPAS—jockamo and wrought iron, as well as a good selection of ales and seasonal brews. They even have harvest brew flavors like grapefruit, strawberry, lemon wheat, and pecan.
The beers at this brewery are meant to pair with the Cajun cuisine that the owners grew up with. The brothers converted an old railroad car to a farmhouse brewery. They now cultivate innovative ales that compliment the people of Louisiana.
The tasting room here features a 3-barrel brewing system as well as specializing in unique IPAs and saisons. They also bring in rotating food trucks to compliment the beers they have available upon your visit.
This brewery has free tour Saturdays and offer a great selection of brews in their taproom. They also have apparel like t-shirts and pint glasses. If you bring in your old six pack carriers and receive free swag like t-shirts, brewer shirts, and tap handle.
Dark ales, pale lagers, German goose, and even a coffee brown are just a few of the brew selections available at this brewery. They also have a tasting room, conduct tours, and food trucks that come for the guests at this Shreveport brewery.
Pitmaster Bob McClure clearly realized that two great things go great together -- beer and BBQ -- and decided to team up with one of the city’s finest local craft breweries to make that pairing a reality. Order up a NOLA Blonde with some Alabama-style chicken (white sauce, Big Bob Gibson style) for a truly special combo.