I love the smell of fresh beer in the morning … and afternoon … and evening, for that matter. It smells like … victory! And you won’t get it much fresher than right from the tap at its brewery of origin.
Which brings me to what I consider New Orleans’ best free happy hour, although Kirk Coco, the president of NOLA Brewing, might take exception to calling his brewery tour a happy hour.
“It’s a good way to start off a Friday afternoon of enjoyable beer drinking,” is how Coco describes it.
Every Friday at 2 p.m., NOLA Brewing throws open its doors and its taps to the public, for a guided tour and samples of its delicious brews. It’s a bit like Disneyland for beer lovers, albeit without all the annoying screaming kids – although sometimes you may find screaming adults.
“We get about 100 people on Fridays,” Coco says. “And it can get a little rowdy in here, which is fun, too.”
The brewery is headquartered in a cavernous, brick-red painted steel warehouse in the city’s Irish Channel neighborhood. And the acoustics do make it a little difficult to hear the tour guide over the din of brewery operations and the cheery crowd.
NOLA produces four flagship brews – NOLA Blonde Ale, NOLA Brown Ale, Hopitoulas IPA, and 7th Street Wheat. It also brews four seasonals – Irish Channel Stout in winter, Flambeau Red in spring, Hurricane Saison in summer, and Smoky Mary (brewed with lightly-smoked malt to impart a subtle smoked flavor) in fall.
Most beer lovers will find something to like, each with its own distinctive New Orleans twist.
“We’re brewing beers of complexity and taste … that can be paired with those wonderful foods we have in New Orleans,” Coco says.
So if you’re looking to get your Friday beer on, round up your bestest (non-beer loving) designated driver, and head to NOLA Brewing, Fridays at 2 p.m. You’ll get an in-depth look at a working brewery, and ample opportunity to sample NOLA’s spectacularly fresh, delicious brews.
NOLA Brewing Co.
3001 Tchoupitoulas St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Public Tours: Fridays 2 p.m. (free, no reservations required)
Glen Abbott is a New Orleans-based freelance travel writer/photographer. Visit his blog at www.TravelinGringo.com.