Big Easy Brews
No fat, no salt, no cholesterol—Dr. Oz’s latest health food? No. Except for water, history’s oldest beverage and by far the most popular alcoholic drink: beer. The planet consumes it four times more than wine, which is number two. Many historians and other such types even credit beer with playing a fundamental part in creating and continuing civilization. Containing many minerals and B vitamins, beer’s nutritional value has even earned it the name “liquid bread.” Up and into the modern era, many agricultural workers downed pails of it throughout their day.
Beer’s popularity shows no sign of going flat. Today’s craft and microbrew movements fit perfectly with the New Orleans outlook on life. Unless your actions harm others, be your best being you. New Orleanians have always lived by creatively combining imagination and appreciation—the two most important ingredients in a fine, crafted microbrew.
Fulton on Tap is a cornerstone of the dynamic Fulton Street strip next to Harrah’s downtown by the river. It well lives up to its motto, “Beer of all kinds. In a bar like no other.” Its 90 beers cover craft, imported and domestic brews, from a Shock Top Lemon Shandy to the traditional Dixie. Plenty of lite beers are found here as well. What is not available in other pubs is the drenched-in-old-New Orleans ambiance. Hoist one, or three (no driving) in the 19th-century building. Outside, ships from all over the world steam past. The Algiers ferry traverses the river every thirty minutes. The fat Creole moon reflects in the water.
Gordon Biersch waits only a few steps away. Gordon (the beer half) trained at the world’s leading brewing school. Biersch is a longtime, successful restaurateur. This partnership was made in gustatory heaven. Using Hallertauer hops, two-row malted barley and a yeast strain imported from Germany, Biersch brews in strict accordance with the 16th-century German Purity Law for beer. The results yield an impressive line of bocks, lagers, pilsners and more. Different specialty beers such as Braumeister IPB and ZwickelBock, pop up around the year for your drinking enjoyment.
Lest readers think Gordon gets all the credit, Biersch’s kitchen holds its own with many fine restaurants in town. It also has many selections for pizza and burgers kids. Everyone should try the garlic fries. Add to the picture this hospitable eatery’s convenient downtown location by the mighty Mississippi River and reasons for not checking out GB do not come to mind.
The Crescent City Brewhouse has been a New Orleans favorite since it opened in 1991 at one of the city’s most historic properties in the French Quarter the he city’s first brewpub. There are two ways of approaching anything: create a lot of varieties or do a few things excellently. Crescent City takes the latter road, focusing on only four beers, from a dark to an amber pilsner.
This Brewhouse also serves excellent food. Classics such as Louisiana Crab Cake and Shrimp and Grits are available here for a few dollars less than other French Quarter restaurants. The graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who oversees the food at Crescent City insures they all its dishes are most satisfying. Jazz plays nightly; readers should consider the courtyard or balcony dining. The latter offers the best combination of people and river watching in the city.
Visitors heading to the river or interested in catching a game should consider a spot at Poppy’s Time Out by the Riverwalk Market Place. Located at the Spanish Plaza just steps from Harrah’s Casino, Poppy’s provides a spectacular view of the river. It also offers every game on 17 big screens. It even sports 20 beers on tap at both the indoor area and the outdoor plaza. How does one decide? There really is not a bad choice. Clearly this is the spot to add to your beer that one ingredient New Orleans always offers—down home fun.
Sazeracs, Pimm’s Cups and Hurricanes are fine to do, but sometimes just the thing is a brew. New Orleans has them, too.