Make beer and you quickly make friends. Kirk Coco learned that back in 2008, when he and Peter Caddoo were first setting up NOLA Brewing (3100 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-301-0117; nolabrewing.com) in an Irish Channel warehouse. Working on a shoestring that was rapidly fraying, they found people were eager to help this first New Orleans brewery of the post-Katrina era get rolling.
NOLA Brewing has made plenty more friends as its brand has grown. One of them is Neil McClure, of McClure’s Barbecue (4800 Magazine St., 504-301-2367; mccluresbarbecue.com), and this week marks the debut of a collaboration between them that sounds promising for those who like beer and barbecue, preferably together.
On Friday, June 12, the brewery officially opens its new and greatly expanded NOLA Brewing Tap Room. There’s a pair of bars on two floors, a second-story deck with a rare Mississippi River view and a counter-service kitchen for a satellite operation of McClure’s Barbecue.
“I’ve done pop-ups here, I’ve catered events here, I drink beer. It was a natural,” McClure said of the decision to work with the brewery.
McClure got his own start on a bootstrap budget as a pop-up in 2011. His slow-and-low barbecue approach led to his own restaurant, where since opening in 2013 he’s grown increasingly creative with specials built from the smoky meats.
At the taproom, he serves a similar menu augmented with a few more bar food items (pulled pork poutine, for instance). On Fridays, he’ll serve prime rib and grilled redfish “on the half shell,” a nod to a marquee dish at Dante’s Kitchen, which he managed for a decade.
State law prohibits breweries from selling any alcohol other than its own beer, so there’s no wine or liquor here. But you’ll find every beer the company produces, including some one-offs for the taproom only.
You’ll also find more synchronicity between beer and barbecue as things proceed. McClure is using NOLA Brewing beers in new sauces, for instance. There will be whole hog feasts, and by the fall the taproom should have an oyster bar, so naturally the pit master envisions grilled and smoked versions, too.
“They’re the craft brewing types, I’m the craft barbecue type, so we get each other,” McClure said.
The taproom’s grand opening party begins at 5 p.m. Friday. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily with the kitchen open until around 10 p.m.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.