The Best Brewery Hops in New Orleans

“I need to take a day-long break from New Orleans cocktails and daiquiris– by drinking New Orleans craft beer! Where should I go?”

It’s been a busy decade for New Orleans’s craft beer scene. In 2008, post-Hurricane Katrina, the city had zero active craft breweries. Now, New Orleans has craft breweries springing up rapidly around town as an alternative to both its famous sugary rum drinks and potent bourbon drinks. After all, every fun city is more fun with local beer options. Despite not having too many breweries in casual walking distance– especially in the summer, when the humidity will drape over your body like so many Mardi Gras beads– there are some good brewery hop options for those with either a love for walking or a budget for brief Uber rides. Let us show you where you can go hard in the Big Easy.

Note: Russell went to New Orleans as a solo trip, so he’s writing this piece alone– at least until Emily can convince him to go back, which shouldn’t take much effort.

3. Parleaux Beer Lab –> Brieux Carré Brewing Company

This fits a looser definition of a “hop,” as your two destinations are separated by over a mile and a half, but on the plus side, you can walk the Crescent Park Trail between your two stops. For those more inclined to explore the outdoors and walk off your beer calories, this could be an ideal trail for you. Start in the Bywater neighborhood at Parleaux Beer Lab. This is a homey tap room with a lovely outdoor patio for those not visiting in the summer. The furniture is wooden, some seemingly repurposed, and if it weren’t for the brewing tanks in the background, you’d think you were at some cozy Southern backyard hangout. For those who like to mix beer and wine (something we don’t recommend, but hey, we also don’t judge!), there’s the added convenience of Bacchanal Wine and Spirits right down the street. The beer list is varied, boasting more sour and gose options than most in the area, and it has the notable distinction of having good options across the style board. My recommendations: the Green With Envy is one of the finer hazy doubles in the city, and the Berry Poppins is a refreshing blackberry gose. Also, for those who frequent this site, you know my fondness for a good coffee stout, and the Punctual Schwartz, a blonde coffee bomb, is the best in the city.

From there, you burn off your beer walking through the park or you beeline via Uber to your second stop, Brieux Carré Brewing Company. Brieux Carré is a stone’s throw from Frenchmen Street, so for those looking for breweries convenient to your other tourism destinations, none of the higher quality breweries in town beat Brieux Carré’s location. There’s a spacious outdoor patio– the interior, by contrast, is very small and cozy. This could make things a bit difficult on a hotter/rainier day if visitors start piling in, but during my visit, the atmosphere was warm, quiet, and welcoming (I was also wearing a romper for a party I was attending later, and I received nothing but compliments on my gaudy outfit choice, so bonus points to Brieux Carré for exceptional fashion taste!). The beer options are solid across the board and would be welcoming for casual and discerning drinkers. My recommendation: the Costumes Encouraged was my favorite of their IPA selection, and I would be remiss to not mention the Pomeranian Fight Club, a very floral sour. I’m not the biggest fan of floral beers in general, but I recognize its quality and can safely say that Emily would’ve loved and strongly recommended it to our readers. Have a couple beers, then go wander Frenchmen and listen to local music all evening long.

2. Wayward Owl Brewing Company –> Broad Street Cider and Ales

Start this hop, the most walkable of the New Orleans brewery hops, at Wayward Owl Brewing Company. If you’re looking for a typical brewery entrance, you’ve missed it. Wayward Owl operates inside The Gem, a historical landmark movie theater. You walk in underneath the typical old-school movie marquee, and you’ll see an impressive interior, with plenty of games, seating, a movie screen, and even rows of movie theater-style seats to match the aura the Gem provides. They have a solid selection of beers, along with the occasional flight of fancy (pun intended)– I was served Boy Bait, a bourbon barrel-aged blueberry coffee cake creamy sour ale. While it wasn’t exactly what I’d reach for on draft, props to Wayward Owl for swinging for the fences. My recommendations: if they have any barrel-aged options available, they’re worth a glance, but my favorite option on tap was the Birdbath and Beyond, a triple-dry-hopped pale ale that’s light enough for a summer New Orleans day while dry and bitter enough to give you the punch of flavor you crave.

It’s a short walk– under half a mile– to Broad Street Cider and Ales. A good cider can give one sense memories of being at home again, and Broad Street’s interior welcomes such a comparison. They have comfortable seating, games of all sorts, music playing on an old record player, and movie nights. They serve flights in ample portions, and for those concerned that ciders are generally too sweet to be consumed in large doses, Broad Street Cider does not fall under that umbrella. Their ciders are complex, often dry, occasionally hopped, and unfailingly delicious. Jon, one of the owners, was serving when I was there, gave terrific recommendations, and treated everyone present warmly. Too often you find very small establishments run with an air of pretension, but here, you’ll find nothing but a welcoming atmosphere, fun conversation, and outstanding cider (and, for those adamantly opposed to cider, they have guest beers on tap for your convenience!). My recommendations: the Royal Tannin Bomb is a hefty dry crabapple cider that will have you on your back by Glass #2, but I have a special fondness for the One Night in Marrakesh, a *peppermint cider.* Jon told me to lure me in, “Everyone has an expectation of how it will taste, and everyone is wrong.” After that sales pitch, I couldn’t say no– and he was right. It’s not some barely-infused concoction, nor is it a sugary-sweet mint bomb. It’s a balanced, refreshing, mojito-esque cider that was the perfect capper to my hot summer New Orleans hop.

1. The Courtyard Brewery –> Urban South Brewery –> NOLA Brewing

Three breweries in two miles: perhaps not recommended in the peak summer hours (unless you enjoy sweating), but worth Ubering for this hop. We begin at The Courtyard Brewery, a tiny, hip shack of a taproom, located atop a loading dock. With eclectic seating options, neon signs, and barrels and vinyl records a-plenty, this should definitely be the top destination in town for those more discerning beer drinkers looking for a cool, quiet place to enjoy a craft beverage. They’re best known for their variety of top-notch IPAs, many of which rank above a 4 on Untappd– those seeking haze and/or hops look no further. They also get bonus points for having a number of guest taps for other in-state breweries: anywhere I can go and get a Parish Brewing Ghost in the Machine, perhaps the best double IPA in Louisiana, gets major love in my book. One slight downside: for those who love flights, they don’t serve them– only half pours. They’ll let you sample before ordering, though. My recommendations: Preach is also heavily in the running for best double IPA in Louisiana, and single IPAs like The Wild Party and the Modern Times collaboration How to Live in Style are also standouts in the New Orleans IPA scene.

It’s a little under a mile to Urban South Brewery, and the tonal shift from The Courtyard to the next two stops on this hop is drastic. We’ve come from the small, quiet, and hip location– and now, we’re entering Fun Town. Urban South is one of the better breweries for large gatherings and parties that I’ve ever been to. I was there with a party myself, and another party entered that must’ve had 60+ people, and there was *still* ample room for anyone who wanted to join in the festivities. It’s family-friendly and dog-friendly, and there are games galore. This goes well beyond the usual board games, Jenga, and cornhole. There are also several arcade games, including a basketball game with which I grew moderately obsessed during my stay. (I came close to the high score, and I broke a significant sweat doing so– I’m convinced the high score was set by two people playing at once.) The tap list consisted primarily of lighter fare: lagers, wits, goses, radlers. Still, the lightness and the fruitiness matches the vibe at Urban South. You’re there to have fun and beat the heat. My recommendations: the Blueberry Mojito Gose was my favorite of their gose options, the tartest of the bunch with strong berry flavor, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. For those looking for hops, the Holy Roller is a crushable IPA that can capably wash down the bitter defeat of failing to set the basketball game’s high score.

Finally, a little over a mile down Tchoupitoulas is NOLA Brewing, the spot that sparked the recent craft beer revival in New Orleans. NOLA Brewing (short for New Orleans Lager and Ale) was the first brewery to open its doors post-Katrina in 2009. Today, it’s still an impressive establishment, a two-floor facility with tons of open space for parties and/or Saints games. They also host McClure’s Barbecue, a delicious spot to fill your belly with meat as your hop comes to a close. Loads of games here too– and don’t shy away from popping into the photo booth upstairs. With 20+ beers on tap, you could stay here sampling and playing for several hours. My recommendations: the Hopitoulas is a popular canned IPA around town, but I personally prefer their heftier New England IPAs, Hopback Cadillac and Hoppyright Infringement. For those craving something darker in a town that’s relatively light on local porter and stout options, the Prytania Porter is roasty and surprisingly smooth for an 8% ABV.

The Courtyard (Runners-up: NOLA Brewing, Brieux Carré)

Parleaux Beer Lab (Runners-up: Urban South, NOLA Brewing)

Parleaux Beer Lab (Runners-up: NOLA Brewing, Brieux Carré)

Urban South (Runners-up: NOLA Brewing, Wayward Owl)

Urban South (Runners-up: NOLA Brewing, Wayward Owl)

The Courtyard (Runners-up: Broad Street Cider, Brieux Carré)

NOLA Brewing (Runners-up: none of the other have food on site, though a few have daily food trucks)

Which is your favorite of these brewery hops? Are there any you love that we neglected to mention? Please shout them out in the comments below! Also, please check out our other beer travel guides, including a guide to the best breweries in a fellow Southern coastal destination, Jacksonville!