Beer lovers of New Orleans, prepare to start your livers.
Louisiana Craft Brewers Week is upon us again, returning Sept. 12-19, and that means special tastings, beer events and parties at bars, restaurants and breweries across the area.
It’s a chance to explore not just the growing ranks of homegrown breweries, but also the increasing diversity and specialization of the small-batch products they’re bringing to market. A blackberry French farm ale aged in wine casks (from Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville), a peanut butter-flavored milk porter (from Gnarly Barley in Hammond) and a “mint julep Turbodog” (from Abita Brewing) only scratch the surface of the exotica that local producers will break out next week.
For all the momentum building with craft brewers in Louisiana, however, this annual showcase remains loosely coordinated at best, with no lead organizer. Still, we can count on some anchor events that have become traditions now that Craft Brewers Week is in its third year, and this time around there are plenty of new players involved, too. Here are highlights from a schedule of suds.
Party with the Producers
The Louisiana Brewers Bash falls in the middle of the week, on Wednesday (Sept. 16), and functions as a gathering of the local beer-making tribe.
It’s hosted again at the Irish House (1432 St. Charles Ave., 504-595-6755), in conjunction with Louisiana food personality Jay Ducote, of the Bites & Booze brand and a finalist on “Food Network Star.”
This year, 12 breweries will be represented, each pouring specialty brews and casks at stations throughout the restaurant, which will provide pub fare in between. It’s from 6-9 p.m. and tickets are $45. There’s an after party planned at the Magazine Street location of the Bulldog.
On Saturday (Sept. 19), Irish House reprises the beer line up for its “Pints & Potluck” event, with live music on the patio and a variety of food stations from 4-10 p.m.
Cajun Country Kick Off
On Sunday (Sept. 13), as the Saints kick off their season, the bar will kick off the brewers week by hosting Bayou Teche, which will roll into town not just with specialty beers, but also with some pots and pans to serve Cajun food for the party (pastalaya and boucherie items are expected). It begins at 3 p.m.
Then on Friday (Sept. 18), the Avenue pub hosts its annual Zwanze weekend, when the taps are given over to specialty European beers (including the namesake Zwanze, a Belgian beer released simultaneously around the world each year; the Avenue Pub is one of only two dozen in the U.S. to get a keg). This year, NOLA Brewing will also provide a number of its specialty sour beers for the occasion.
Pouring It On
NOLA Brewing (3100 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-301-0117) has a full lineup for the week itself, and Friday is its biggest event. That’s when the Irish Channel brewery hosts “Pour Decisions,” a daylong (11 a.m.-11 p.m.) self-guided tasting of beers, including many created for the event.
Last year’s edition brought such exotics as “crab boil blonde” and a stout aged in rum barrels.
This year, with its vastly larger, two-level NOLA Brewing Tap Room open, they’ll serve 24 examples. As usual, McClure’s Barbecue is on hand to help gird you for the effort.
The local go-to beer bars will have guest breweries and special beers flowing all week, including the Bulldog taverns (especially the Canal Boulevard location) and the Barley Oak on the Mandeville lakefront.
The Chimes in Covington, and Lagers and the Mellow Mushroom pizzeria in Metairie are also hosting events.
Other stops on the Craft Brewers Week circuit are marking their first year. There’s Courtyard Brewery (1020 Erato St.), for instance, which pours a selection of its own brews and other craft beers from around the country from a repurposed garage in the Lower Garden District. On Sunday, beginning at 5 p.m., Courtyard hosts a donut-and-beer pairing with nearby eatery District: Donuts.Sliders.Brew that is shaping up to be memorable (a donut dusted with hops and sugar is in the works to pair with a high-proof IPA). Tickets are $25 in advance at the taproom ( or reserve via emial at email@example.com), or $30 at the door.
Another yearling is Junction (3021 St. Claude Ave., 504-272-0205), the beer-centric expansion from the Molly’s at the Market crew. On the first and third Thursdays of each month, Junction hosts beer release nights and other events, and makes up a “small burger” (bigger than a slider smaller than the house burger) to pair with them. Small burgers will go with Covington Brewhouse beers on Sept. 17, and a host of local breweries come through during the week.
World of Beer, the Florida-based craft beer tavern chain, recently opened a New Orleans location, and this new spot and its year-old Metairie location both have events through the week.
Appropriately enough for the start of the pro football season, the new Warehouse District location (300 Julia St., 504-299-3599) has a wing pairing with Tin Roof’s Gameday IPA on the calendar for Sunday (Sept. 13), starting at 1 p.m.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.