Food & Drink

The Best Beers to Drink in New Orleans This Spring

Abita beers on grass
Elizabeth Childers/Thrillist

Here in New Orleans, spring is by far the nicest time of year. It’s the only time that’s genuinely perfect for outside dining and drinking. We all want to pack as much outdoor time into these blissful few months as possible, before the humid, sweaty, sweaty, humid, sweat-drenched heat of summer kicks in and takes over (and lingers till, you know, October). Lucky for those of us in Food Paradise USA, this time of year also coincides with the bliss that is crawfish season -- which means several of these springtime beers weren’t just brewed with the fine weather in mind.

Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager

Fruit lager, 4.2%
Abita Springs, LA
Louisiana loves strawberries. Abita created this beer years ago specifically for the annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, and now it’s part of its Harvest beer series. Fresh Louisiana strawberry juice is added to the wheat-pilsner base beer for a touch of sweetness, perfect for (and evocative of) a warm spring day in Louisiana.

Bayou Teche Brewing Saison D’Écrevisses

Saison, 6%
Arnaudville, LA
This beer, designed to pair with crawfish, is easy drinking but stands up to the strong flavor of the boil with spicy saison yeast and a nice amount of rye in the grain bill. Since it’s a “crawfish seasonal,” the beer is available from January to June.

Southern Prohibition Brewing Suzy Smash

American Blonde Ale, 5%
Hattiesburg, MS
Due to difficulties sourcing the correct hops, last year’s spring seasonal (the hilariously-monikered “Pow! Rye In The Kisser”) will have a stand-in this year: the wildly popular dry-hopped Suzy Smash. It's a variation on the brewery’s flagship blond ale, Suzy B, kicked up several notches with the not-so-subtle addition of West Coast hops. Entirely refreshing and utterly delicious.

NOLA Brewing Company Flambeau Red

Red ale, 5.7%
New Orleans, LA
A Mardi Gras seasonal beer, this hoppy red ale uses seven different malts and three hops, which makes for a very balanced brew -- perfect for enjoying along a nighttime parade route while watching the traditional flambeau carriers light the way.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Spring Bock

German bock, 6.9%
Houston, TX
The brewing of bock beer traditionally signalled the end of the brewing season in Germany, a way to use up the remaining grain before it got too hot to brew. Saint Arnold’s award-winning version takes two months to ferment and age, leaving behind a dark, malty, smooth, higher-gravity lager that hits all the right notes.

Great Raft Brewing All My Tomorrows

Hoppy saison, 7%
Shreveport, LA
This spring seasonal is so well-loved that Great Raft is now brewing it three times a year instead of just once. This is great news for the beer-inclined -- this spicy, hoppy saison is off-the-charts delicious and full of flavor.

Parish Brewing Company Farmhouse IPA

Belgian-style ale, 5.5%
Broussard, LA
The Champagne-like effervescence of this beer, combined with a fruity Belgian and French yeast blend, makes this brew a great bottle to commemorate a special occasion. No need to wait, though: this well-hopped farmhouse ale tastes as delicious fresh as it does cellared.

The Courtyard Brewery Blanche De Orleans

Witbier, 4.8%
New Orleans, LA
Head brewer Scott Wood wants people to know that he brews more than just dank, San Diego-style IPAs. He’s been experimenting a lot, as evidenced by this take on the witbier: it’s fairly traditional, with a citrus aroma courtesy of the hops, and banana esters from the yeast -- but it finishes dry, and is really refreshing.

Old Rail Brewing Company Zest Fest Blood Orange Black IPA

Black IPA, 7.1%
Mandeville, LA
Originally conceived as a one-off collaboration beer with Terrapin Brewing from Athens, GA, this dark, citrusy hop bomb has proved so popular that it’s brewed annually. Louisiana citrus season coincides with the late winter and early spring, and this year’s blood oranges were sourced locally from Little River Citrus.

Covington Brewhouse Spring Pale Ale

Pale ale, 6%
Covington, LA
This aptly named beer is part of Covington’s newly established and expanded seasonal beer line. It’s perfect to pair with the crawfish boils the brewery holds on Friday nights during the season, and the Columbus, Falconer’s Flight, Amarillo, and Zythos hops make for a refreshing, hoppy brew.

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Nora McGunnigle, a beer writer based in New Orleans, enjoys this time of year after Mardi Gras season but before festival season. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @noradeirdre.