Photo: The Avenue Pub
A weekly look at the draft selections in beer-friendly bars across the country.
New Orleans is a city that is known for its parties and its drinking. But for a place that loves alcoholic beverages, craft beer has been conspicuously underrepresented in their landscape of libations.
Polly Watts, owner of New Orleans' The Avenue Pub, pointed to people's preference for other drinks. "Louisiana is a big liquor consumer," she explains. "Lots of vodka and rum." It makes sense: Bourbon Street is more than just a catchy name. And The Big Easy's penchant for fine dining plays a role as well. "We're a really big wine state too," she told us.
Not to say that beer didn't exist. It just wasn't always the drink of choice. And it was rarely ever craft. "For decades, the only beer you'd see was generic macrobrews," said Watts, before adding, "maybe an occasional Abita," referencing one of Louisiana's few well-known craft breweries.
So, shortly after taking over the Pub from her father four years ago, Watts recognized the need for a dedicated craft beer bar in town. A beer lover herself, she switched all her taps to craft brews two years ago and things have been uphill ever since. "Nobody in town was doing what I was doing," she says. "The growth has been extraordinary."
Since the switch, business has boomed, the staff has doubled, and her bar has risen up the rankings of beer sites like RateBeer.com. And other people are following Watts' lead. "The last couple of years things have changed dramatically," she said, citing as proof three new breweries that have opened in the state.
Despite the recent craft boom, however, Louisiana still has room for for growth compared to other parts of the country. "We account for 50 percent of the Stone [Brewery] draft sales in the state," Watts tosses out as an example. She also laments that popular brewers such as Dogfish Head still haven't made it to the city.
But The Avenue Pub continues to try to get people excited about great beer with whatever they can get their hands on. One unique promotion is having cask ale available for every Saints games. Sipping on small batch beer in fancy glassware might not seem like the typical way to watch football, but this isn't a typical football team -- they're defending Super Bowl champs!
This Thursday, why not watch the Saints start their title defense with a cask brew?
Check out The Avenue Pub's draft list as of this Wednesday...
- NOLA 7th St. Lemon Basil Wheat
- Rogue Orange Honey Wheat
- Ephemere Apple infused Belgian Wit
- Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan
- La Merle Saison
- White Albino Python
- Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan
- Abita Restoration
- NOLA Blonde Ale
- NOLA Hopitoulas IPA
- Lazy Magnolia Stout
- Abita Imperial Kolsch
- Covington Pilsner
- Bayou Teche LA 31
- Bayou Teche Bouchanee
- Heiner Brau Alt Bier
- Ruination DIPA
- Anchor Humming
- Stone 14th Anniversary English IPA
- Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Black IPA
- Stone Pale Ale
- Brooklyn Lager
- Harpoon Imperial Pilsner
- Scrimshaw Pilsner
- Mahrs U Small Batch Lager
- PranQster Golden Belgian
- La Terrible Strong Dark Ale
- Rogue John John Barrel Aged Juniper Pale Ale
- Lazy Magnolia Stout (on nitro)
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout
- Rogue Shakespeare Stout (on nitro)
And as an added bonus, Polly Watts let us in on her very exclusive Oktoberfest beer list with rare cask and draft selections sent straight from Germany...
- Cask lager
- Brauerei Zehender Mönchsambacher Lager - a traditional kellerbier from Mönchsambach, Upper Franconia. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, well-hopped, and utterly drinkable.
- Brauerei Bayer Ungespundetes Landbier - Another earthy, dry Franconian lager fermented ungespundet (in an open barrel) at the Bayer keller in Theinheim.
- Brauerei Löwenbräu Buttenheim Kellerbier - Not the Lion's Brewery with which you're probably familiar. This one has been in the same family since 1880, passing the brewing tradition along through the generations. This characterful kellerbier is produced in minute quantity, and the care that goes into the brewing really shows.
- Brauerei Ahornberger Landbier Dunkel - A slightly unusual landbier in that it's made with dark roasted malts; this one is still dry and goes down way too easily.
- Brauerei Sauer Rossdorfer Urbräu - Another light, hoppy, kellerbier done in the Franconian tradition by a family-owned brewery just outside of Bamberg.
- Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Eucharius Märzen (a.k.a. Monk's Fest) - A 5% festbier from the second-oldest brewery in the world at the monastery in Weissenohe.
- Regular kegs
- Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Altfränkisch - this märzen's recipe is based on that of the traditional beer made and consumed at this monastery-brewery.
- Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Eucharius Märzen (a.k.a. Monk's Fest) - see above
- Kapuziner Weisse - a traditional light and refreshing, unpasteurized weissebier from Kulmbach.
- Mönchshof Festbier - this märzen is brewed twice a year: once for Kulmbacher Bierwoche--Kulmbach's equivalent to Munich's Oktoberfest--and once for the Weinachtsfest. Get it while you can!
- Mönchshof Kellerbier - a bit more malt-forward and sweet than traditional Franconian kellerbiers, this lager is still incredibly easy to drink.
- EKU Pils - one of the few unfiltered, unpasteurized pilsners to make its way outside of Germany. You'll taste the difference between this 'live' pils and usual dead stuff.