Mardi Gras parades and drinking beer on the street combine two of New Orleans' favorite traditions. More and more local and national craft beers are available in cans, including Abita, Brooklyn Brewery, New Belgium, NOLA Brewing, Samuel Adams, Santa Fe Brewing, Southern Prohibition, Sierra Nevada Southern Star and Tin Roof. And an increasing number of bars along parade routes offer craft beer for drinking at the bar or taking out; here are some options for reveling in good taste.
Uptown parades — St. Charles Avenue area
Avenue Pub (1732 St. Charles Ave., 504-586-9243; www.theavenuepub.com) is a haven for craft beer aficionados seeking the widest selection of the best beer available. During parades, the pub serves beers with 8 percent or less alcoholic content so parade watchers can drink for longer without getting too drunk. Mardi Gras also marks the one time of year that Avenue Pub taps one macro brew — Bud Lite. Other beers available at this bar for both weeks of parades are: Stillwater Why Can't IBU, De La Senne Taras Boubla, North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner and Thornbridge Kipling.
Evangeline Two Lounge (1753 St. Charles Ave., 504-523-4500) will be open during all parades and offers a variety of Abita beers, NOLA's Irish Channel Stout and the New Belgium-NOLA Brewing collaboration beer, Chicory Milk Stout, on draft. It also has a wide selection of bottled beers.
The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 504-895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com) offers its usual craft beers and imports during parades, including NOLA Brewing's Irish Channel Stout, Spaten, Chimay White and Ommegang Hennepin.
Just off St. Charles Avenue, Prytania Bar (3445 Prytania St., 504-891-5773; www.theprytaniabar.com) works all year round to spotlight local and regional craft beers. During Mardi Gras, it offers Tin Roof Blonde, Sweetwater 420, NOLA Flambeau Red and Bayou Teche Courir de Mardi Gras. The bar also will present live music at night (starting after the parades), including the Lost Bayou Ramblers, featuring Bayou Teche Brewing team member Louis Michot, who provides lead vocals and plays fiddle for this Cajun fusion band.
Aline Street Beer Garden (1515 Aline St., 504-891-5774; www.facebook.com/alinestreetbeergarden) next door opens at 11 a.m. for daytime parades and 8 a.m. Fat Tuesday. "We are investing in some Mass Krug-size go-cups so people that are used to drinking Spaten by the liter can still get that size in go-cup form," owner Jason Comboy says. The beer garden has lots of indoor and outdoor seating one block off St. Charles Avenue. It always has German beer on tap, along with regional selections from Covington Brewhouse and Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
At the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon avenues, Superior Seafood (4338 St. Charles Ave., 504-293-3474; www.superiorseafoodnola.com) serves Abita Mardi Gras Bock, New Belgium Fat Tire and NOLA Brown and Blonde.
Heading Downtown, Lucky's (1625 St. Charles Ave, 504-523-6538) serves NOLA Blonde and Abita's Amber, Turbodog and Purple Haze. The bar will be open 24 hours and will continuously offer food such as jambalaya and red beans.
Samuel's Blind Pelican (1628 St. Charles Ave., 504-558-9399; www.theblindpelican.com) has 30 taps and offers local craft beer options including Abita, NOLA Brewing, Bayou Teche and Parish.
Irish House (1432 St. Charles Ave., 504-595-6755; www.theirishhouseneworleans.com) serves its usual Irish beer standbys as well as local brews like NOLA Hopitoulas and Irish Channel Stout, Abita Mardi Gras Bock, Tin Roof Parade Ground Coffee Porter and Parish Canebrake.
If you're on the French Quarter side of the Canal Street parade route, the newly opened Deuce McAllister's Ole Saint (132 Royal St., 504-309-4797; www.olesaint.com) has dozens of taps to quench the thirst of the pickiest beer geek. In addition to the entire NOLA Brewing and Abita lineups, there are three taps each of beers from Tin Roof, Lazy Magnolia, Saint Arnold, Covington Brewhouse and Parish. Beer from other craft brands like Sweetwater, Terrapin, Stone, Sam Adams and Crooked Letter round out the bar's list.
Endymion — Mid-City
Bayou Beer Garden (326 N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy., 504-302-9357; wwwbayoubeergarden.com) will offer live music before and after the parade — and all weekend — as well as crawfish all day, which revelers can eat at the bar or take out. Manager David Demarest says Bayou Beer Garden's 130 craft beers include nine on tap; draft beers include Goose Island's 312, NOLA Hopitoulas, and Abita's Grapefruit IPA.
Holy Ground Irish Pub (3340 Canal St., 504-821-6828; www.facebook.com/theholygroundirishpub) is right on the Endymion parade route and serves Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Samuel Adams Lager, McSorley's Pale Ale, Abita Jockamo IPA and Bayou Teche LA-31 Biere Pale.
Cole Newton, owner of Twelve Mile Limit (500 S. Telemachus St., 504-488-8114), says he is going all out for Endymion with live music outdoors before and after the parade and food trucks. Twelve Mile Limit only serves beer in cans or on draft. Its canned beer list includes all the canned NOLA brews, Southern Star, Caldera IPA, New Belgium Shift and Fat Tire and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. On draft there's Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, New Belgium Ranger IPA and Anchor Porter.
Lager's (3501 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-887-9923; lagersmetairie.draftfreak.com) gets a shoutout for bringing a great selection of brews to beer- and parade-loving patrons on the Vets parade route. With 163 beers available in bottles and on draft, Lager's is the place to find a good beer for watching the Excalibur, Caesar, Centurions, Isis, Zeus, Argus and Jefferson parades.
Avenue Pub Owner Polly Watts' Tips for parade watchers
• Order drinks while floats are passing to avoid waiting in line (most revelers rush in right before and after the parade and during a break in a parade). You will be served quickly and can get back on the street to catch beads. Note: the same rule applies for using restrooms and ordering food.
• Wait 15 minutes after the parade ends to close your tab at a bar or try to access a restroom. Bars tend to clear out when parades end so there is no wait for drinks or food — and there may be places to sit.
• Expect to spend money if you intend to use a business' restroom. You don't have to spend a lot, just be a customer.
• Bring your ID. Even if you are a regular, it's common for bars to hire extra staff during parades and they may not recognize you.
• Take things slow and steady — there's lots more Carnival to come.