New Orleans: it is known for so many things, and it is my homeland. In New Orleans, we have so many unique inventions, like jazz music, jazz funerals, gumbo, the snow cone, big-city Mardi Gras, and more. And when it comes to a gastronomical culture, I cannot think of anywhere in the US with a greater love for eating and drinking than New Orleans. Great food, great drinks, and great company are so interwoven into New Orleans life and culture that it is hard to imagine a New Orleans without it.
But when it comes to culture, although New Orleans has invented many great things, it is also on the cutting edge of new trends from other places, like craft beer. Craft beer and micro-brewing have become very popular in the US in the past few decades, and New Orleans is no exception. As one of the oldest European cities in the New World, New Orleans has had the equivalent of micro-breweries for hundreds of years. But the Crescent City Brewhouse on Decatur Street is the first such brewery in 72 years, and still the only one in the French Quarter.
Like a traditional French brasserie, Crescent City (named after one of New Orleans’ nicknames, as the city is on a crescent-shaped bend in the Mississippi River), serves food and brews its own beer. The food for the most part is Louisiana cuisine, including crawfish étouffée, gumbo, raw oysters on the half shell, duck, and shrimp. The food is really good, but let’s be honest: it’s all about the beer.
Crescent City Brewhouse brews four regular beers, with frequent special brews as well. German brewmaster Wolfram Koehler’s four brews are named Black Forest, Weiss Beer, Red Stallion, and Pilsner. Each beer has its own style and characteristic.
Black Forest is basically a medium-dark stout. It uses roasted, malted grains and very little hops. It has a sweet, malty flavor with a sweet aroma. It pours a medium-thick head. It is good, and I would suggest pairing it with raw oysters or fried duck.
Weiss Beer, as the name suggests, is a wheat beer with a golden-amber color, a medium head, and a nose of mild fruit. It is unfiltered, producing a cloudy appearance. Tasty and German, it pairs well with fish.
Red Stallion is a Vienna-style ale that is close enough to an IPA to satisfy hop-heads like me. Reddish-orange in color, Red Stallion offers a lively, citrus aroma, and a hoppy, bitter, floral, and malty flavor. It pairs well with a spicy gumbo or jambalaya.
Pilsner keeps true to its name as a traditional lager. It is cold-fermented with top-fermenting yeast, producing a light, grainy flavor with undertones of flowers, and a floral, fruity bouquet. It pairs with traditional American fare, such as a thick, juicy hamburger.
All four of the beers are good, and the fact that they are brewed in-house by a German brewmaster makes the experience especially meaningful. If you spend time in New Orleans, be sure to make time to eat and drink at the Crescent City at 527 Decatur Street, and enjoy a few beers for me.