New Orleans might be known for its signature cocktails, but the Big Easy is no slouch when it comes to beers. New Orleans has been turning out quality suds ever since the founding of its first brewery, Brasserie, way back in 1726. By 1850, more than fifty breweries were operating within city limits, making New Orleans the undisputed “brewing capital of the South.” The 1986 opening of Abita Brewing in nearby Covington jumpstarted a craft beer revolution, and we’ve compiled an insider’s guide to the best and brightest new stars in New Orleans’ universe of golden brews.
A local staple since 1907, Faubourg Brewing Company is the oldest operating brewery in town and is still bottling some of the city’s best lagers 116 years later. Prohibition was enacted only 13 years after Dixie’s founding, but the company survived by rebranding as a “beverage company” that a .5% ABV near beer.
By the time Prohibition ended in 1933, Dixie was the last remaining brewery in town. It remained the cornerstone of the local beer scene until the historic red-brick brewery was damaged beyond repair by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. In January 2020, Dixie opened a new brewery and taproom under the fresh name Faubourg. Today, the taproom is a social hotspot for crawfish boils, trivia nights, cardio classes, and craft markets. Don’t forget to hop into Faubourg’s adult Easter Egg hunt on April 8!
It’s all in the name: Parleaux is a laboratory of sudsy invention that perfectly embodies New Orleans’ distinct brand of funky creativity. Located in the Bywater neighborhood, Parleaux proudly advertises that it doesn’t have a flagship beer and instead boasts a rotating list of 12 taps that combine international brew styles with locally sourced ingredients. Take “The Taut & The Tame,” for instance, a wine-barrel aged wild ale infused with Louisiana strawberries. Or try Parleaux’s Hazy IPA with fresh satsuma, a Japanese citrus fruit. Other cosmopolitan offerings include an English bitter ale, New Zealand style pilsner, and Japanese lager. In true NOLA fashion, Parleaux mixes and matches a world of influences to create something that could only be found in the Crescent City.
Parleaux’s industrial-chic taproom features an outdoor beer garden and often hosts pop-up kitchens and food trucks. As you sip an exotic beer, compete in one of their regular trivia nights or enjoy a live funk band. One thing’s for sure: this beer lab has good times down to a science.
Tucked away in an old shrimp warehouse in the Lower Garden District is New Orleans’ first nano brewery. Meet Courtyard Brewery, which has been pouring unique brews in this casual venue since 2014. Courtyard specializes in the historic and the outlandish. Step back in time with their 1930s interwar stout, 1915 mild lager, or 1880s London porter. Something modern more your style? Try out Juanita’s Chocolate Gold, a chocolate peanut butter pastry stout with marshmallow, raw sugar, and Ecuadorian cacao.
Courtyard offers six or seven carefully curated beers and has an eclectic outdoor seating area in—you guessed it—a courtyard. Bring your own food, grab a seat, and don’t miss one of Courtyard’s monthly comedy shows.
As our crawlers know, the Irish Channel neighborhood has been a hub for good drinks and good times for more than a century, and NOLA Brewing Company keeps up this tradition. A large brewpub with more than 20 beers on tap, a huge indoor seating area with second-floor balconies, fresh New York-style pizza, and frequent live music, NOLA Brewing is the perfect spot to cool off after a long day exploring the historic Irish Channel.
Feel like giving back while sipping a crisp draft? NOLA Brewing Company is a community-oriented business with a big emphasis on supporting New Orleans’ culture and natural environment. A portion of the proceeds from every Muses Belgian pale ale goes to supporting the Krewe of Muses, the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe. Every Revivalists pale ale sold supports the Roots of Music, an organization that provides musical instruments and lessons to the city’s underprivileged youth. And 100% of the proceeds from NOLA’s upcoming Easter Keg Hunt will go to the Gulf Restoration Network, which protects and restores Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.
Our final fave is another Irish Channel original. Miel brewery is the passion project of its two founders, one of French descent and the other of Spanish heritage. “Miel” means “honey” in both French and Spanish, and the name captures the indulgent concoctions that this pair have whipped up together since opening in 2018. Miel specializes in European styles like German kolsch, Czech amber lagers, Schwarzbier, Baltic porters, Belgian tripels, and smoked braggots. For those with less adventurous tastes, Miel also offers classic lagers, IPAs, and sours. Also on the menu are house-made hard selzers, nitro coffee, and alcoholic slushies.
Often on site are food trucks dishing out crawfish, Latin food, burgers, and more. With a large covered drinking area and weekly trivia every Wednesday, Miel is another fabulous addition to New Orleans, which remains, in our judgment, the brewing capital of the South. Cheers!
Written by Chris, a local expert guide for New Orleans Crawling. A historian on the lam from the world of academia, Chris enjoys gardening, hiking, and playing at open mic nights after one too many beers. Want to learn more about New Orleans’ hidden history? Join us on an Irish Channel Pub Crawl!