The Best of Craft Beer Louisiana, 2016

NOLA Brew Bus is your guide to all things craft beer in Louisiana! If you are local eager to learn more about craft beer or you are a tourist looking for the best craft beer spots and local beers, then you have landed in the perfect spot.

The Facebook group Church of the Sacred Brew, a tightknit group of craft beer aficionados mostly from south Louisiana, voted on the all the best styles of beer from every Louisiana Brewery. NOLA Brew Bus was one of over 150 craft beer lovers to vote on what we collectively think are the best of the best craft beers, brewpubs, breweries, and everything craft beer in Louisiana. Here’s the list of categories the Church organized and ranked.

  1. Brewery of the Year
  2. Best Hoppy Beer
  3. Best Dark/High ABV Beer
  4. Best Sour Beer
  5. Best Low ABV/Not Hoppy
  6. Taproom of the Year
  7. Craft Beer Bar of the Year
  8. Brewpub of the Year
  9. Best Beer Festival

Big props to Church-goer Matthew W. for spending all the time compiling this wealth of information, and Joel O. for designing all the awards.  Big props the all the Breweries pounding out amazing beers and making Louisiana the next best elite craft beer state in the country.

Without further ado, here are the final rankings!

Brewery of the Year

In 2016, we saw a meteoric rise in the number of amazing beers being produced in Louisiana.  In 2017, at least 5 new breweries will be opening their doors in just New Orleans.  As the craft beer explosion continues to grow, making the top 3 Breweries will be a difficult challenge.  Although, it will be hard to overtake Parish Brewing.

Parish Brewing, located in Broussard, LA, is starting to distinguish themselves as the Brewery of the entire south with their amazing hop forward IPAs.  While known for their amazing IPAs, they have really diversified their portfolio with the addition of the Reve Coffee Stout, the new Flora Genesis Sour, and of course the traditional Canebreak which started Parish’s rise in popularity.  The Grand Reserve Barleywine release date has turned into a cult following.  Check out our blog post highlighting the annual November event by clicking here.   They are a well deserved 1st place.

Great Raft out of Shreveport, LA, came in a close 2nd place.  With major distribution to the New Orleans market, Great Raft has proven to be a Brewery worth seeking.  Our favorite beers are the Double Dry Hopped Commotion and the Creature of Habit Coffee Brown.   Grace & Grit will be featured in another award later in the article.  The dark lager Reasonably Corrupt is a favorite among light beer drinkers.

Gnarly Barley in Hammond, LA, rounds out the top 3.  With Brightside IPA coming out in 2016 immediately becoming a fan favorite along with the Peanut Butter Korova Porter also excelling among locals, look out for these guys in 2017.

 

Best Hoppy Beer

Louisiana has been turning out so many great beers for all the hopheads out there. This vote was extremely close and all 3 on the list are well-deserved winners! A couple of IPAs we also recommend you check out at the Great Raft Double Dry Hopped Commotion as well as Gnarly Barley’s Brightside IPA.  Courtyard Brewery just released a new Mosaic IPA that is really nice called Preach!  We hope to see more of that in the future.

Gold, Parish Ghost in the Machine, a beer sought out from Craft Beer Hopheads all around the country, this one scores an amazing 98 on the well-respected Beer Advocate.

Silver, Parish Double Dry Hopped Envie, another Parish IPA, this one was released at the aforementioned Grand Reserve Day and packs on a second load of hops into an already great beer, Parish Envie.

Bronze, Great Raft Grace & Grit, this Shreveport beer has been on the shelves for over 3 years with various batches, and they consistently do it well.

Best Dark/High ABV Beers

Who doesn’t love a dark, high ABV beer in the heart of winter?  Lucky for us, we have some great ones in Louisiana.   No shocker at the 1st place winner as Great Raft’s Old May Joy has been brewed for 2 years now and puts out a consistent, high quality product.  Coming in at 2nd place is Parish Brewing’s Reve Coffee Stout which is one of the best Stouts the NOLA Brew Bus team has ever tasted.  With over 1,000 votes on the popular craft beer app, Untappd, Reve Stout still has an incredible 4.31+ rating.  Gnarly Barley’s Peanut Butter Korova is also very well deserved.  The standard Korova has been a popular beer since 2015, and this spin on the original somehow made it even better.  Second Line Brewing released a delicious Russian Imperial Stout in November to be on the lookout for next year!

Best Sour Beer

Sour Beer fans have taken America by storm, and we finally got to experience some amazing ones being produced in Louisiana in 2016.   As you can see from the rankings, Great Raft has really taken their Sour game to the next level.  NOLA Brew Bus founder, Matt Marsiglia, is from Shreveport, LA, so he is certainly proud of all the great things Great Raft has brought to the Louisiana craft beer scene.  While You, Me & Everyone We Know came in with the Bronze, the NOLA Brew Bus team thinks the second batch is incredibly delicious.  We also highly recommend the NOLA Brewing Funk Series which we feel is criminally underrated in the Sour scene.  Check out any of their Wharf Series next time you make a visit to the Brewery.  Urban South in New Orleans just released a Tart Farmhouse Ale that is also very nice.  We hope to see that one in cans soon.

Best Low ABV/Not Hoppy

You can’t drink all day unless you start in the morning!  So, here’s your top 3 Louisiana beers to help get you through the day with a solid brew, yet you can still function for dinner.  Great Raft’s Creature of Habit is one of our favorite beers in the state.  Although it does pack a slight punch at 6.5% ABV so be a little careful with this one.  Congrats to Chafunkta Brewing out of Mandeville, LA for Silver, and finally, we had a tie for Bronze, congrats to Old Rail out of Mandeville and Mudbug Brewing from Thibodeaux.  NOLA Brew Bus also recommends NOLA Brewing’s Brown Ale and Courtyard Brewery’s See You in Mexico Wheat beer and a personal Brew Bus favorite Abita Brewing’s Macchiato Espresso Milk Stout.

Taproom of the Year

Alright, we have seen who has some of the best brews in Louisiana, so where is the best place to consume them?  NOLA Brewing recently upgraded their taproom into a 2-story machine that churns out people 12 hours a day.  It’s an amazing design that can accommodate a large amount of guests that visit NOLA’s first craft brewery opened in 2008. It’s no surprise they were number one.  Parish once again wins another award as their taproom is loaded with goodies year around.   We want to shake the hand of the architect who built out Mudbug’s taproom out of Thibodaux.  It’s certainly worth a visit, and NOLA Brew Bus has plans for a future 2017 event with Mudbug.  We also highly recommend Great Raft’s taproom in Shreveport.  It’s huge layout makes for a very comfortable place to drink high quality beer.  Wayward Owl is one to look for next year as they recently opened in December 2016 and masterfully rebuilt the old GEM Theatre in Central City.  Urban South also has a new taproom on the horizon too in New Orleans.  Louisiana’s longest standing and largest production brewery by a longshot, Abita, also just finished their new taproom, and the design and layout is awesome.  2017 is lining up to be a great year already!

Craft Beer Bar of the Year

While there is no doubt Avenue Pub, consistently ranked a top craft beer bar in the country by multiple publications, deserves the first place award, you would be surprised at how close the vote was.  Polly Watts, owner of Avenue Pub, has separated her bar to be the craft beer destination for many of the craft beer loving tourists who visit our city.  People actually make a point to stay within walking distance of The Pub.  Corporate Brew & Draft, which came onto the scene just since 2 years ago, has really emerged as a top notch place with the best Craft Beers in Louisiana.  Baton Rouge is full of craft beer lovers, so this was a welcome addition to the city!  Congrats to Blackened Brew out of Hammond for also making the list!

Brewpub of the Year

Congrats to Old Rail, Courtyard, and Crescent City Brewhouse!  Old Rail has a beautiful setup with liquors and a full service restaurant.  Courtyard is a Brew Bus favorite and many of our tours cycle through the local’s favorite spot.  Crescent City Brewhouse is where NOLA Brew Bus starts and ends all our weekday tours.  It’s a perfect spot for Louisiana Fare and Live Jazz Music 7 nights a week.

Best Beer Festival

And, last, but certainly not least, is the best Beer Festival in Louisiana.  We can’t think of a better way to spend our Saturday than enjoy craft beer with several thousand of our fellow craft beer lovers from all over.  Congrats to Bayou Beer Fest for ranking #1 in the state!  This festival is designed to support Veterans, and they certainly put on an awesome party!  They survived some tough competition including NOLA on Tap which brings in over 20,000 people from all around the country.  Zapp’s is also a Louisiana favorite, intoxicating local Baton Rouge residents for more than a decade now.  We love all the homebrewer tables at the Zapp’s event.