New Orleans isn’t much of a beer town. The bars will typically carry four or five draft beers, most of which are usually your basic domestic swill. If you’re lucky, they’ll have a selection from local favorite Abita. It’s a town where the liquor is king. Which is understandable since it’s pretty much the birthplace of the modern American cocktail. In fact, there are still plenty of chefs and bartenders in town making spectacular new drinks that redefine some of the most basic liquors.
Unfortunately for me, I’m a beer guy. I like an expertly made cocktail, but I have to put my taste buds in someone else’s hands. Otherwise, I just end up consuming disgusting concoctions that leave me feeling terrible the next morning. I just don’t know what to order, so I end up asking for the first thing that pops into my head. Then I feel too embarrassed to admit my mistake, so I end up stick to something grossly sweet like a whiskey sour all night long.
When it comes to beer, though, I’m usually the party expert. When I visit a new town, I hit up as many microbreweries as I can to sample what the locals have to offer.
New Orleans makes this task easy. As far as I can tell, it has two microbreweries, both of which are right down the street from each other. Still, they have some tasty beers that are worth checking out.
Gordon Biersch isn’t exactly a local microbrewery. The company has locations all over the country. It does, however, brew on site, and that’s good enough for me.
The brewery in New Orleans doesn’t make that many different types of beers. They have five regulars and one seasonal. You can literally try every single one of their beers in a sampler that comes in shot-sized glasses. My favorite was the Schwarzbier, a black beer that feels light on the tongue even though it is extremely dark. That’s not to say that it’s watery darkness like Guiness. It has a deep flavor with the slightest hint of coffee. What’s exceptional about this beer is that it contains an ungodly amount of carbonation. It’s so effervescent that it plays across your tongue like Coca-Cola. Normally that would put me off a bit, but it’s a welcome factor in the the muggy city of New Orleans.
Gordon Biersch also has surprisingly good food. They even have a well made pizza. The only one that I’ve found in town.
Crescent City Brewhouse
The Crescent City Brewhouse is much more crowded than Gordon Biersch. It’s right in the French Quarter, just a couple blocks down from Cafe du Monde. It’s much more of what I consider a local microbrewery: it’s the only one in existence, the brew on the premises, and they have live bands playing every night. Oddly enough, though, they only serve five brews (four permanent and one seasonal). Again, my favorite was the darkest on the menu. The Black Forest didn’t have much of a coffee or chocolate flavor. Instead it focused on malty goodness. Much heavier than the Schwarzbier, it’s probably not the smartest choice for drunken ambling. Despite its heaviness, it was, to my tongue, the tastiest beer at Crescent City.
(Image via: AZ Central)