It has been about a month since I got back from a fantastic trip to New Orleans. The purpose of the trip was to visit family, but I made a point to find craft beer while in NOLA. I finally got around to uploading my photos, so I wanted to share.
When I stepped off the plane in MSY I was already on the hunt for some local craft beer to try. But I quickly realized that I’d have to wait until I got into town to enjoy some local craft brew. From the gate to baggage claim, this was all I found on tap.
The Saint Hotel
931 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
First stop was checking into the hotel, and dropping off the bags in the room. Second stop, the Burgundy Bar. Named after the street, the Burgundy Bar is the swanky hotel bar located inside The Saint Hotel on the corner of Canal and Burgundy in New Orleans.
The stylishly elegant, accented with a bit of bordello chic, atmosphere of the Burgundy Bar embraces the past, present, and future of this legendary building with live jazz and musicians who celebrate the signature style of Louis Armstrong and New Orleans.
It’s a glamorous and sophisticated bar, not nearly as casual as the places I’m used to hanging out in So Cal. But what the heck, I was on vacation. They didn’t have anything on tap, so I looked over the beer bottle list. They had a slew of local Abita beers available, but I chose something that I’d never had, but had always noticed before… Brouwerij Van Steenberge “Gulden Draak”.
The name Gulden Draak translates to “Golden Dragon” and according to their website it is named after the gilded statue on top of the Belfry in Ghent. This 10.5% ABV Dark Triple is a big beer. The white bottle is 750ml, and the design definitely pops with the contrast of the black stripe and red text with the golden dragon. Heads turned as the huge bottle was brought to my bar table in the dimly lit speakeasy. (The camera flash turned a few heads too, apparently not a lot of folks take pictures of their beer in this place.)
The flavors were fantastic, with caramel, malt, roasted coffee, and even a little hint of chocolate in there. This would make an excellent dessert beer in place of a port wine. Probably a poor choice on my part for a first beer of the night on an empty stomach. I was with a bunch of non-beer drinkers too, so I finished this one all by myself. I’m not complaining, it was an incredible beer, and I’ll definitely enjoy it again. I’m just saying that the 10.5% went straight to my head. Good thing New Orleans is a walking town. And I fit right in while stumbling down Bourbon Street.
We left the hotel bar and walked down the famous Bourbon street on our way out to dinner. We had a fantastic meal at John Besh’s restaurant “August”. The beer list was not impressive, but I was still feeling fine from the Gulden Draak, so I had water. They had a sommelier come to the table to help pair wine with our courses, but they hadn’t even heard of a Cicerone. If this were a food blog I’d go into details about the foie gras, bbq crispy duck, and medallions of beef, but alas, this is a beer blog, so I’ll skip to the craft beer.
Sydney’s Wine Cellar – 917 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA – 504-524-6872
Founded by Sidney Pampo as a newsstand over 50 years ago, Sidney’s is the premier liquor store in the French Quarter for unique and hard to find items and hundreds of different cold, single beers. Plus we are a lot a fun.
After dinner we wandered around the French Quarter until we saw a pink bottle that we recognized through the window of a liquor store. Rogue’s “Voodoo Doughnut” was on display, and if you’ve seen the bottle, you’d instantly recognize it anywhere. We stepped inside to see what other craft beers they had. The friendly staff at Sydney’s helped me choose a few bottles from the cooler of almost 200 different beers. This shop is definitely a must stop shop for any fan of craft beer visiting the French Quarter. It’s on Decatur, just look for the sign.
Funny enough, I picked up a few beers that I haven’t seen in So Cal, but weren’t Louisiana brews either. St. Arnold “Weedwacker” (Texas), Squatters Pubs “Hop Rising” (Utah), and Indian Wells “Amnesia IPA” (California). Of the three, Hop Rising was my favorite. The folks at Sydney’s popped the top on the Amnesia IPA for me and bagged the others. Walking around town with an open bottle was something new to me and I kept feeling like I had to hide the bottle, (except for the photo in front of Sydney’s.) There were tons of folks in the street with Grenades and Hurricanes, but I felt like the only one with a craft beer.
The next day I had a chance to taste a few different Abita beers on draft while having lunch at Brennan’s Redfish Grill. Although they were local craft brews, there wasn’t anything noteworthy in the bunch. Not saying they were bad brews, just nothing to write home about. The food was fantastic, and the service was excellent. I’ll definitely return to Redfish Grill on my next trip to NOLA.
After lunch we went shopping in the French Quarter and walked past a street-facing bar called Crescent City Brewhouse. They were pouring right from the tap into plastic “go cups”. How could I pass that up? I ordered their house amber and snapped a quick photo in front of the signage. The beer was cold, and easy to drink. I had to drink it quickly because it started to rain and I didn’t want the beer to get watered down even more.
I’m guessing the ABVs of the Abita and Crescent City brews were pretty low because I was quite a few beers in already and still wasn’t as tipsy as the night before. I found another bar with craft on tap and grabbed a Nola Hopitoulas in a “go-cup”. Let’s get this party started!
Hopitoulas is a decent beer, but not anything close to the IPA’s I’m used to enjoying here in So Cal. I guess I’m spoiled with the West Coast style IPAs available to me at home.
Day three wasn’t much of a beer day for me. I spent the day with family, attended a wedding, and drank gin and tonic. Later on that evening I headed to the hotel bar to listen to a jazz band that was playing. It was my last night in town so I ordered the Abita AndyGator, keeping it local. Although that one is a bit on the sweet side, I found it refreshing and a nice way to end my New Orleans trip. Since I got dirty looks using the flash in the bar on my first night in town, I grabbed a few candles from the bar and used them to light this photo.
All in all I had a great trip to New Orleans, and got thoroughly beer soaked for a couple of days. It would have been much easier to just drink hurricanes and slushie drinks, as those were everywhere. I had to do a bit of beer hunting to find craft beer, but the thrill of the hunt made it all worthwhile.
Beer Soaked Erik