Nola Craft Beer (Beer ala’ Louisiana, including NOLA Brewing)

Written by Christina Murphy, Amy Garner, Zach Yanowitz, Nicole Nolan, Sophie Unterman, Stephanie Chen, Sam Abramowitz and Jamie Norwood for

New Orleans’ relationship with beer

For a city so stereotypically associated with alcohol, New Orleans isn’t particularly known for its beer culture. In the 19th century, however, that was not the case. New Orleans was the beer capital of the South with more than 30 breweries. But during the last 200 years, New Orleans beer culture has dwindled. Dixie was the last remaining large-volume brewery within city limits, before it stopped production in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In a 2008 Brewers Association census, Louisiana was ranked 50 out of 51 U.S. states and territories in breweries per capita – a statistic that Jeremy Labadie, beer aficionado and author of the Beer Buddha blog, calls “staggering.”

Prohibition and the rise of huge national brands took a toll on New Orleans breweries. Only in recent history has craft beer resurrected the city’s beer heritage. Abita launched in 1986 and has dominated the Louisiana beer scene ever since. During the last few years, however, more and more craft beers have shown up on local taps. A married couple developed Lazy Magnolia beer in their Kiln, Miss. home in the early 2000s, and their Southern Pecan brew evolved into the unofficial craft beer of Mississippi. New Orleans Lagers and Ales, or NOLA Brewing Co., became the only brewery in New Orleans when the company was established in 2008, releasing its first beers in March 2009. Covington’s Heiner Brau microbrewery opened in 2005, and with NOLA Brewery’s founding, a trend began. In 2009, the Louisiana craft beer movement reached Cajun country with the creation of Parish Brewing in Lafayette and Bayou Teche in Arnaudville, La.

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