Behind the colorful beads, the hangover-inducing Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens, and the bartop dancing at Coyote Ugly is a city still recovering from one of the worst natural disasters in history. Now, 10 years removed from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still discovering itself. Having been there three times over the past eight years, I’ve gotten to see the many different faces of NOLA.

While I could probably write ten pages on the music, cocktails and food, I’m going to keep this one simple: bars and beers. Imagine waking up around 11am on a Saturday after a late night on Bourbon St. This is what your day should look like. Trust me.

Dis & Dem

Once you manage to get your bearings, you’re going to want to make your way to Dis & Dem, a local burger joint with all the New Orleans fixins you’d expect. If you know what’s best for you, you’ll get a NOLA Blonde and the Dis & Dem Burger, which is their original burger topped with a hot sausage patty and “cheez.” N’awlins much?


NOLA Blonde Ale
Style: American Blonde Ale
Brewery: NOLA Brewing Co.
Location: New Orleans, LA
ABV: 5.0%
What they say: “The perfect beer for all four seasons, especially crawfish.”

At this point you’re probably questioning your decision to get the Dis & Dem burger over a more health-conscious salad or something. But then you remember you took my advice. Oh, and you also remember that in the local tongue, “salad” is a bad word.

Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar

By the time you’ve made your way down Canal St. on the streetcar (don’t call it a trolley) to the revitalized Warehouse District, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to get another drink. Lucy’s is a festive, easy-going hangout with a drink list to match. If you really want to look like a tourist, get the Shark Attack. But if you want to make a more reasonable decision, grab a seat outside on the patio and people watch over a refreshing Purple Haze.



Abita Purple Haze
Style: Raspberry Lager
Brewery: Abita Brewing Co.
Location: Abita Springs, LA
ABV: 4.2%
What they say: “Consider enjoying Purple Haze alone at the end of your meal as dessert.”

Down the Hatch

A 20-minute stroll down Magazine St. will bring you to an unassuming, slightly divey, slightly Irish bar in the Lower Garden District called Down the Hatch. If you’re like me, things are starting to feel like home here. Act like you stumbled upon the place, make good friends with the bartender, and in true local New Orleans fashion, order a $5 pitcher of PBR (assuming you’re with another person…or not).

But in the spirit of discovering new beers, you should also test out the ubiquitous and very tasty Amber lager, Abita’s flagship brew.


Abita Amber
Style: Munich-style Lager
Brewery: Abita Brewing Co.
Location: Abita Springs, LA
ABV: 4.5%
What they say: “Amber is Abita’s most versatile beer for pairing with food.”

Carrollton Station

At this point, you’ll probably want to jump on the St. Charles streetcar, the oldest and most scenic of all the lines. You’ll be graced with beautiful views of Audubon Park, Tulane University and some of New Orleans’ most historic mansions. If the ride alone wasn’t worth it, you’re in for a treat at Carrollton Station, consistently voted one of the best music venues in the city. Oh, and they also have a killer beer selection. I’d suggest grabbing a 12 oz. can of Jack the Sipper while you watch some of the best local talent bring their best to the stage.


Jack the Sipper
Style: ESB Ale
Brewery: Southern Prohibition Brewing
Location: Hattiesburg, MS
ABV: 5.3%
What they say: “Allows the victim to sip on multiple pints for a true UK experience down South.”


A Saturday in NOLA is not complete before making your way to Frenchmen St. While some locals say it gets more touristy every year, it’s still the best place to see authentic New Orleans music. And no better place to witness that than at d.b.a. I’m still not sure what d.b.a. stands for, but if I had to guess, it’d be Drink Beer Always…because they have enough beer on their menu to drink beer always.


The beer list (see above) can be a bit overwhelming at first, so if you’re not sure where to start, try out the local LA 31 Bière Pâle, a drinkable pale ale with just enough spunk to make you get out on the dance floor.


LA 31 Bière Pâle
Style: Pale Ale
Brewery: Bayou Teche Brewing
Location: Arnaudville, LA
ABV: 5.7%
What they say: “This beer is crafted to enhance the unique cuisine and lifestyle of South Louisiana.”

A Constant Evolution

New Orleans has certainly changed over the past ten years. The neighborhoods, the people, and the music are constantly evolving. While some of it has received justified resistance by the residents who grew up in “old” New Orleans, there’s no doubt that it’s still one of the most special places on earth, and it just happens to be right here in the US of A.

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