The Booming New Orleans Craft Beer Scene

Allow me to quickly introduce myself.  My name is Matt Marsiglia.  I am 35 years old, born in raised in Bossier City, LA, then headed south to Baton Rouge for a career opportunity and am now in Year 5 living in New Orleans.  In the spring of 2013, I developed a craft beer fever like no other.  This was right dead set in the middle of the craft beer explosion albeit I was a couple of years late.

Total Domestic Craft Beer Dollar Volume

I was enamored with it all:  festivals, tastings, barrel-aged stouts, bottle shares, stuffing as much beer in my suitcase for the plane ride home from a work trip, etc.  Also, a majority of the craft beer folks are just nice, good people.  I recall a time I went to Avery Brewing in Boulder, CO, and one of the managers came out and asked us how we were doing.   We just started chitchatting, and after we told him we were from New Orleans, he comes back out with two free bombers (1 pint, 9 ounce bottled beer) to bring home.  He said the NOLA people took such good care of his crew when they were in town just a couple of weeks prior.

When I approached Polly Watts, owner of Avenue Pub, to incorporate her world-famous bar into my business plan, she was welcoming with open arms even offering marketing support on her website and other social media platforms.  Good karma goes a long way.

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The Brew Bus at Avenue Pub

So, how did I end up buying a party bus and starting a craft beer focused business?  Back in the April of 2016, my friend and fellow craft beer connoisseur and old-school Kennerbrah attended a Bachelor Party in Charleston, SC—a city with many New Orleans similarities except one:  their craft beer scene is already a top tier destination in America.  My buddy kind a half ass joked, “We need to open up a brew bus in town.”  Back in April, we did not have one at the time.  I thought it was a brilliant idea.  This was before I even researched it and found out there’s already a Brew Bus in 44 of the top 50 cities in America.  I don’t think they knew how serious I was until my business plan was already half-way completed.  I knew someone would do this eventually, so why not start a job centered around a favorite hobby?

The Booming Craft Beer Scene in New Orleans

The truth is, I opened this business because I believe New Orleans can join the likes of Denver, Portland, Seattle, etc. as the next elite craft beer city in America, and I want to be here to help write this new chapter in New Orleans history.  I have seen extensive conversation about the above theory from arguing with friends at the bar to message board threads on highly visited Tigerdroppings.com’s Food and Drink board which contains mostly a mix of craft beer/whiskey/food lovers from South Louisiana.  The message was mixed:  some don’t see it, others agree.  After visiting Portland, Oregon last year, I felt an eerily similar vibe with their brewery scene compared to our dive bar scene. A lot of locals drinking local beer having local conversations; just more lighting on the interior, maybe a little cleaner.  You can only get particular beers by going to the neighborhood the Brewery is located.  This city supports droves of dive bars, and we would do the same with multiple breweries in different neighborhoods.  I foresee elite brewmasters such as Justin Boswell from Wayward Owl (his former job of head brewer of Black Raven Brewing ranked a 92 in the much respected Beer Advocate) coming to the city to be part of this booming scene.

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The Craft Beer Boom of 2011 is just now arriving in New Orleans

Biz New Orleans writer Mark Patrick Spencer certainly agrees.  He wrote a masterful article in the July 2016 issue of Biz New Orleans clearly showing how the scene in this town has changed just in the past 18 months.  New Orleans in 2015 was the 49th ranked state in craft beer consumption.  Considering how much we enjoy an after work adult beverage coupled with how much America loves craft beer—that stat is just an insanely low number. This time two years ago, Kirk Coco’s NOLA Brewery was the only one in town.  Interestingly enough, the pioneer of Craft Beer in New Orleans said himself:  “Louisiana can support 40 to 45 breweries statewide.”   Don’t blink, because this number will hold true sooner than you think.

Scott Wood at Courtyard Brewery made history after a lengthy battle with the city’s permit process.  After an official Grand Opening of January 24, 2015, Courtyard is now producing more beer than they ever imagined.

Second Line Brewing and Urban South Brewery joined Courtyard as the third and fourth brewery to open outside the FQ.  Mark and Karen Logan at Second Line Brewing just finished wrapping up their first Barrel Aged Bottle this summer.  It was a wild success, and so is their mid-city neighborhood patio.

Urban South has an unparalleled marketing plan with fun events happening weekly coupled with really nice IPAs.

I mentioned Wayward Owl earlier which is very close to being open in the historic Gem Theater.

Parleaux Beer Lab is getting ready to close the gap of a much needed Bywater brewery.  Eric Jensen’s 4,000 square foot patio will bring out droves of locals along with being just a block from The Joint and a couple blocks from Bacchanal.

Robert Bostic at Brieux Carré (great brewery name huh?) is going to be opening on Decatur a half a block off Frenchman.  I can’t wait to start a tour that ends at his Brewery.  I am going to park the truck and just finish my night at d.b.a. or Blue Nile.

Brandon and Mandy Pumilia at Royal Brewery have kept a tight lid on their opening date, but they will soon be filling the gap in Lakeview.

Finally, Port Orleans, currently in development, will be on the corner of Tchoup and Milan.

Even the local dive bars are catching on.  Some friends and I started asking them to carry Parish Envie.  Parish is an elite brewery in Broussard, LA who makes a Double IPA , the sought after Ghost in the Machine, that would rival any Double IPA in the country.  Many of them obliged and have even told us it’s now a top selling beer.  The divest of all dive bars, Ms. Mae’s, even has a pretty solid tap list ($3 Urban South Holy Roller IPA anyone??).

New Orleans may have been late to the craft beer party, but sometimes, if we don’t create it ourselves, we just go a little slower—it’s more fun that way.   Either way, buckle up, as I foresee at a minimum 3-4 breweries opening every year for at least the next 4 to 5 years.

Please feel free to contact me anytime at matt@nolabrewbus.com.  Cheers!