If you're hitting local bars this weekend, there's a good chance you'll run into the first commercially available batches of beer from New Orleans Lager & Ale Brewing Co., better known as NOLA Brewing.
The tiny Irish Channel brewery was organized last year by Kirk Coco and veteran local brewer Peter Caddoo, and they've been promoting early samples of their beers at fundraisers and brewing events for the past few months.
They shipped out 300 kegs this week, a very small drop in the bucket for beer production compared with even regional breweries. But the launch is significant because it represents a new chapter in the history of brewing in New Orleans. With the exception of a handful of brewpub operations, NOLA Brewing is the first company to resume commercial brewing in New Orleans proper since Hurricane Katrina knocked the historic Dixie Brewery out of commission. The Covington-based brewery Heiner Brau initially produced Dixie after Katrina, but the famous New Orleans brand is now made under license in Monroe, Wis., by Minhas Brewing Co. Abita beers are of course produced across the lake in Abita Springs.
NOLA Brewing has started production with its blonde ale and brown ale available on draft only. The list of bars that actually now stock the beers is growing, but so far includes both the Uptown and newly reopened Lakeview locations of the Bulldog, the wine bar Clever in Mid-City, Winston's in Old Metairie, Lager's in contemporary Metairie and 45 Tchoup and the Avenue Pub Uptown.