While craft beer has become a huge trend in the U.S., New Orleans isn’t famous for its beer scene. The crowd at NOLA Brewing on a Friday afternoon, however, seems to think differently.
The staff at NOLA Brewing hosts free tours almost every Friday afternoon. When I arrived at the brewery at 2 p.m. on a Friday in December, it was my first time; I anticipated a small crowd, since the brewery isn’t that big. I was surprised to see a big group of about 50 people waiting outside. I joined the line and we filed into the brewery showing our IDs. A guy stamped my hand and I proceeded to the taproom, which is a bar area where you can get free beer on tour day.
As the brewery filled up with people, I noticed the whole event definitely appeals to a certain demographic. A lot of the people waiting for the tour are what many would call “hipster.” Everyone seems to be under 35 and almost everyone has a similar style, like they all stopped by Urban Outfitters on their way.
Most people line up for the tour, but some people hang back just to drink beer (which is understandable since it is free). I want to go on the tour, so I hop in line. Our tour guide is Kirk Coco, the CEO of NOLA Brewing and a native New Orleanian. He introduces himself, apologizing for his hangover, which might be frowned upon at most jobs, but for Coco it seems appropriate since he’s a brewery owner. As the tour begins, Coco goes into the story behind NOLA Brewing, which is an interesting tale: Coco was an officer in the Navy, but he moved back to New Orleans after Katrina. He decided he wanted to start a local brewery after he noticed the Dixie beer he was drinking was produced in Wisconsin even though it was known as a Southern beer. Coco decided to start his own New Orleans brewery.
The 30-minute tour was very informative and fun, mainly because you get to drink free beer along the way. I learned a lot about how beer is made and how NOLA Brewing names their beers. At the end of the tour, Coco invites everyone to stick around and enjoy some brews.
I recommend the tour to anyone who enjoys beer or New Orleans-made products. The people-watching is great and the free beer is better. The downside of the tours is they take place on Friday afternoons, so the time isn’t ideal for people with traditional jobs. If you do have a free Friday afternoon, though, a visit to NOLA Brewing is worth your time.
NOLA Brewing is located at 3001 Tchoupitoulas St. For tour information, visit NolaBrewing.com.