We Visit These Five Breweries Every Weekend
By Matt Marsiglia, NOLA Brew Bus Co-Owner
Updated October 23, 2018
New Orleans can be very overwhelming for a first time visitor. Most everyone has heard of Bourbon Street, but if you take the Bourbon Street out of New Orleans, you still have a world-class city.
Search upon Google, and it’s just another mountain of information. If you enjoy craft beer like millions around the world, you can turn almost any vacation into a “Beercation”, including in the Big Easy.
Every weekend, we host vacationers from big beer cities such as Boston, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and all over the world looking to expand their beer palate the Big Easy way.
Find out why these outsiders are leaving glowing reviews about our young beer scene. Here’s an in-depth look at what you can expect from the five breweries we visit every weekend.
The Nitty Gritty
For starters, every tour recipient receives 5 tokens to redeem for any 5 beers of his or her choice from 3 select breweries. Each beer is between 10-12 ounces. That’s 50+ ounces of craft beer as part of the experience.
We pick-up and drop-off in the French Quarter (or custom pick-up for private tours), and you can book online here:Book Online Now! $75 per person
Alright, let’s do a deep dive at each of the breweries we may visit during a tour.
NOLA Brewing, the o.G. craft brewers of the Big Easy, opened in 2008 and held a monopoly on the beer scene until 2014 when we finally relaxed Brewer regulations thus curating our current craft beer boom 5 years later than the rest of America.
Prior to our new laws, breweries had to sell at least 90% of their biz through a politically motivated three-tier self-distribution model controlled by just 2 companies who get paid in big buck sponsorships by Big Beer (I.e – InBev).
Either way, NOLA is still alive and brewing better beers than ever before.
Let’s talk about IPAs because they’re brewing some incredible ones. Hoppyright Infringement, Spud Heavy, and Flippy Floppy are just 3 of a continuous once per month-ish release of hazy goodness.
The fun part is NOLA dove head first into the Big Easy beer culture by curating a unique music/beer combination unlike any brewery in the country. These guys bring in headlining acts to the brewery.
The types of world-class musicians you see at festivals all across America. They have single-handedly created an underground music and brewery scene. Now, other breweries are following suit.
Did we even mention the sours yet? If sours make you happy, then NOLA has to be on your Big Easy bucket list. They’ve brewed more than a 100 sours since the inception of their sour only team, the NOLA Funk Series.
All their sours have aged a minimum of 9 months. One sour, the Bienville TricentenniAle was aged for 3 years to celebrate New Orleans 300th Birthday. Also, most of the brewery’s monthly-ish parties contain at least one amazing new sour, and they’re always headed to the cellar to release new ones.
Check out the interview we did with Derek, the Director of Funk Series and his brother and President/Co-Owner, Dylan.
A two-story taproom means it rarely feels overcrowded, and don’t worry about a food base because McClure’s slow-cooked meats will surely satisfy your needs. Just look at all the reviews on our website who mention the food conveniently located inside the brewery.
Hands down, a must-see place on your list if you’re looking for craft beer and fun. If you’re visiting during a lucky weekend, you may even catch an awesome live show.
Port Orleans Brewing
Opened in May of 2017, Port Orleans is one of the newest breweries in New Orleans. Home to Managing Partner and former 11-year All-Pro Super Bowl winning Zach Strief.
Zach and other Partners of the business went all-out, building the most modern brewery in the city on a street with mostly old run down manufacturing buildings.
The multi-million dollar taproom is also home to Stokehold Restaurant—where 3 chefs from other highly acclaimed restaurants in the city came together to create the ultimate nightly Beer & Dinner pairing. The food is absolutely amazing.
On to the beer: Port Orleans focused its first year on manifesting the best lager and light ales utilizing new technology such as horizontal brite tanks allowing for the yeast to enjoy a happier feast on the Wort due to a more geometric-friendly bottom than a vertical tank (lagers are bottom yeast fermenters vs ales which ferment from the top).
And, they absolutely killed it with the light beers. Keep in mind folks, it’s H-O-T in New Orleans, and drinking barrel-aged stouts just isn’t appealing 6 months of the year. Also, at one point before our craft beer boom, 95% of our city drank light ales and lagers.
After dialing in their light recipes, they hit a homerun with their first ever IPA, Glory Haze, as a celebration for Zach Strief’s retirement party and “glory days.” Super crushable with the perfect amount of bitterness to go with the strong hop profile and aroma you expect out of an East Coast IPA.
Their most recent IPA, the Gleason IPA, is made to benefit Team Gleason. It clocks in at only 5.8% yet packs all the hoppy goodness you love to taste from a Hazy IPA.
They’ve also brewed two barrel-aged beers that get rave reviews from our tours, and there are more to come.
But besides great food and beer, the outdoor beer garden is really on point. The actual outdoor garden itself has rotating a rotating series of Beer Olympics including multiple dart boards and cornhole boards, picnic tables, bocce ball, and oversized beer pong.
They also have a large projector to show movies on family night. Our bachelor parties and Public Tour guests absolutely have a blast here, and we’d highly recommend it as well.
Brieux Carre Brewing
Robert Bostik, owner of Brieux Carre, just wanted to bring the love he has for New Orleans & Craft Beer into one spot.
Brieux Carre is the Marigny’s first brewery opening in March 2017 with great success. Just a half-block of the famous Frenchmen Street, Robert’s brewery was named one of the top 50 (out of 996 breweries) that opened their doors in 2017.
High praise for a brewery who has made the most out if its 1,500 square feet.
Locals and tourists alike flock to the brewery for weekly events in the quaint courtyard or to grab a craft beer before one of the thousands of live music shows offered 7 nights a week just around the block.
With the opening of Brieux Carre, many nearby Frenchmen Street businesses have taken a similar path. Now, clubs like 30/90, Maison, Bamboula’s and more offer local beer for everyone’s palate.
As far as the beer is concerned, the folks at Brieux Carre have you covered from every angle.
For starters, they creatively name all their beers before brewing. Our favorites are IPA’int Mad At Cha. Yes, that’s a clever 2Pac reference. The raspberry sour, My Tart Will Go On, was inspired by Celine Dion. Robert loves 90’s pop ballads.
That’s a lot of creativity since they brewed more than 65 beers in Year 1 alone. You can find anything from sours (utilizing a small 1-barrel fermenter), ambers, ESBs, Porters, Stouts, BA Stouts, IPAs, and more.
Many of their own beers are more high gravity (higher ABV) than your typical brewery. For example, Brieux Carre’s amber beer, Krewe du Brieux, clocks in at a healthy 6.6%.
Of course, it would not be a brewery experience without mention of craft beer’s #1 selling category: IPAs. The IPAs are killer at Brieux Carre. They make both Hazy & West Coast IPAs with more of a focus on the Hazy, East Coast style of beer.
They’ve made many great ones including Trust Me It’s Worth the Parking, The Girl From NEIPA Neima, Dad Jokes, Mom’s Pants, Costumes Encouraged, among many others.
Urban South Brewery
Urban South Brewery was manifested in March 2016. Since then, they’ve seen a meteoric rise in popularity. The Uptown brewery has already established themselves as a top tier brewery as evident by their production volume outpacing the competition: year 3 is expected to churn more than 10,000 barrels, an impressive feat.
The space itself is an old manufacturing warehouse with tens of thousands of square feet. Fortunately, as of the summer of 2018, air conditioning, has been installed at Urban South!
Despite not having A/C the first couple of years, they did not prevent them from making phenomenal beer. Holy Roller IPA 2.0 was one of the recipes that created the NOLA IPA Haze Craze.
Hazy IPAs officially became a BeerAdvocate Category of beer in 2017 and Urban South has made that its niche. Almost all their IPAs are East Coast focused with Holy Roller probably being the beer with the most bitterness. Virtually all their IPAs receive high praise from local craft aficionados.
Not only IPAs but Gose beers have also been a huge hit as they have made several variations including the Lime Cucumber Gose, Blueberry Lemon Gose, Pink Lemonade Gose, Strawberry Lime Margarita Gose, and more. Folks have been purchasing these beers by the case.
If you’re looking for light beers, the Paradise Park Lager and Charming Wit are our go-to choices during our tours.
Finally, the space is itself has tons of games. You’ve got pool, cornhole, arcade games like basketball and Pac-Man and of course weekends wouldn’t be a party with a Bounce House for the kiddos.
Urban South is very much a kid-friendly and dog-friendly atmosphere.
After 2-years of planning and permitting, Miel Brewing opened their doors to a much anticipated Irish Channel Neighborhood on October 13, 2018. Alex P, co-owner with fiancee Janice, is cicerone certified and already brewing great beer right from the start.
Alex brewed in the past with heavy hitters Harpoon & Abita, so he has great experience on a massive scale. The first three beers on tap were a hit with locals. Our favorite was the Hellaweisen which had distinct Banana notes. We also loved the Belgian Dubbel which clocked in at 7.3%.
Their 5th beer released was an awesome Lagniappe Coffee Stout brewed with local roasters, Cherry Coffee, in a dry Irish Stout.
Here’s what the inside space looks like from one of our Brew Bus Shenanigans episodes:
Wayward Owl Brewing
UPDATE OCTOBER 2018
***We are sad to see The Gem shut its doors in October 2018, but Justin Boswell will continue to Gypsy Brew until they find a new location…beer will be available at your local retailers****
Last, but certainly not least, is Wayward Owl Brewing located in the Central City neighborhood just a 5 to 10-minute drive from the Central Business District and French Quarter neighborhoods
Wayward Owl has the most eclectic taproom in New Orleans with lots of history. Formerly an African-American Theatre in the 1950s, the old building was scheduled to be demolished until owner Justin Boswell lobbied to open the neighborhood’s first brewery.
Justin kept everything the same down to the old GEM Theatre signage from the past.
The taproom itself is the most beautiful in New Orleans. You walk in and are greeted with an open atmosphere of family warmth. Kids are always welcome at Wayward Owl.
To the right, you’ll see a shuffleboard table, a couple of cozy couches, and plenty of board and card games to sit down & converse with friends.
Immediately to the back, the fermenters and other craft equipment stand strong for public viewing. All your beers are ordered to the left, and you will not be disappointed with the style & variety at Wayward.
Lately, the focus has been dialing in their IPAs, and they have nailed it with recent releases of Hopsurdity 2.0, You’re Driving Me Hazy, & 3XDDH Bird Bath & Beyond, a beautiful Pale Ale that sits at 4.8 ABV but packs loads of flavor.
A Brew Bus favorite flagship beer, the Grind, is a coffee brown ale with copious amounts of coffee but does not overpower your palate. Of course, you can’t go wrong with Wayward Owl’s Kristalweizen, Family Tree, also available as a GLITTER BEER!
Our tour is a blast for a craft beer connoisseur or even for someone who knows nothing about beer. By the end of the tour, you will have new friends and hopefully a new appreciation for an industry worth more than 25 billion in the United States. Bottoms up!