When RateBeer.com recently published its list of 100 Best Brewers In the World, some local craft beer fans complained about beers they want to try not being available in the New Orleans area. But five years ago, the landscape was far less rich than it is now; there were no local spots to find Stillwater Artisanal Ales' Stateside Saison, Lagunitas IPA or Bruery's Saison Rue. Today, New Belgium's Fat Tire, Sweetwater Brewing Company's 420, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Founders Brewing's All Day IPA grace tap handles all over town.
Area supermarkets carry beers by those brewers as well as from Stone Brewing, Rogue, Southern Tier Brewing Company, Mikkeller, Clown Shoes and more. Smaller breweries like 8 Wired Brewing Company, Against the Grain Brewery, Upright Brewing, Westbrook Brewing Company and Prairie Artisan Ales pop up on a regular basis in specialty shops like Stein's Market & Deli (2207 Magazine St., 504-527-0771; www.steinsdeli.net).
All of the breweries mentioned above made RateBeer.com's list.
Some local beer enthusiasts thirst for American craft brewers such as Oskar Blues Brewery, Bell's Brewery and Crooked Stave and overlook beers from foreign brewers, such as To Øl in Copenhagen, Magic Rock Brewing from the U.K. and Norway's HaandBryggeriet.
"Most of the import brands on that list we owe to Shelton Brothers and 12 Percent [Imports]," says Polly Wood, owner of The Avenue Pub (1732 St. Charles Ave., 504-586-9243; www.theavenuepub.com).
"Breweries like Emelisse, De Struise and Amager Bryghus are so small that they need to sell in places where the staff really understands these beers," Wood says. Those small breweries, along with gypsy brewer Evil Twin and Belgian beers make up a quarter of Avenue Pub's annual sales. The reason Louisiana has access to beer from such small-scale breweries, as opposed to neighboring states like Texas, she says, it the relatively low cost of fees and licensing.