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New Orleans prepares for American Craft Beer Week

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It seems that our beloved little city, nestled precariously in the cradle of the Mississippi River, is always bracing itself for something. Whether it is hurricane season, summer heat waves, the ups-and-downs of Saints football, or those dastardly flash floods that find vehicles strewn about the city's neutral grounds and sidewalks, New Orleans appears to be in a perpetual state of preparedness. Thankfully, at the moment we are dealing with a much more benevolent force - the onslaught of festival season.

With the warmer months, generally marked by the arrival of French Quarter Fest, we happy few get to experience almost weekly celebrations of everything from art and cocktails to tomatoes and (of course) music. This week, however, we have the pleasure of celebrating something quite dear to me, as pubs and restaurants around town host event after event to commemorate perhaps the greatest 7 days on our national calendar: American Craft Beer Week.

Now, it should be noted that this is not unique to New Orleans. ACBW festivities are happening all over the country, to the delight of drinkers everywhere, from May 12th through May 18th. Still, we certainly have a small but vibrant (and growing) beer scene here that will eagerly take up the cause and share the joys of craft brews with all. You could easily spend the whole week with your butt parked on a stool at the Avenue Pub and enjoy the best this city, and possibly the whole South, have to offer, but I definitely enjoy that there are more and more venues embracing craft beer, and plan to take as much advantage of this as I can. I encourage you to do the same.

On that note, here are a few of my favorite selections from each day of this incredibly sudsy week around the NOLA area. You'll likely find me at any (or perhaps all?) of these throughout the week. Check them out:

  • Sunday, May 11th (TODAY!)
    Avenue Pub - Crawfish boil w/ Bayou Teche Brewing - 3pm
    Yep, it actually starts this afternoon. A great excuse to take a break from setting up my new apartment and enjoy some of the best crawfish (and beer!) cooked up by the Cajun boys from Bayou Teche.
  • Monday, May 12th
    Barley Oak (Mandeville) - Chafunkta/Old Rail collaboration - 7pm
    Awesome to see a collaborative beer from two Louisiana breweries! Chafunkta is making a name for themselves on the North Shore, and Old Rail brings their brewing passion down from Shreveport.
  • Tuesday, May 13th
    The Bulldog (Uptown) - Southern IPA night - 6pm
    Looks like we're starting to see some real quality hoppiness from southern brewers. Check out a few of them here, especially the Sweetwater lineup from Atlanta. Quality!
  • Wednesday, May 14th
    NOLA Brewing - Beer and cheese pairing w/ St James Cheese Co. - 7pm
    A visit to the NOLA tap room is always in order, but throw in the fantastic cheese from St. James and this one is a no brainer. Those guys really know how to pair their cheeses.
  • Thursday, May 15th
    Avenue Pub - Hop Head Night - 5pm
    I would not be a true hop head if I missed this event. With the great range of styles in the realm of hoppy beers these days, it's almost impossible not to find something you like.
  • Friday, May 16th
    Buffalo Wild Wings (Veterans Blvd, Metairie) - Founders Night - 7pm
    Normally, I would not consider this national chain a beer destination, but you start tossing the word "Founders" around (one of the best breweries in the world, IMHO) and I'll be seeing you there.
  • Saturday, May 17th
    Avenue Pub - Grand Tasting - 3pm
    And we're back at the Avenue again to wrap it all up with a ridiculous assortment of phenomenal brews, some of the rarest and most sought after beer ever collected in one place. This is how you close out a party.

Oh, and here's a little bonus. Wednesday night also features an exciting beer dinner with the guys from Parish Brewing. Five courses, each matched with an excellent Parish beer, and with a crawfish theme. Doesn't hurt that it's at Red Fish Grill, just around the corner from my new place. Totally worth the $70...

  • Wednesday, May 14th
    Red Fish Grill - Crawish/beer pairing dinner w/ Parish Brewing - 6:30pm

If you're interested in seeing what else is out there, check out these other sites for more information:

So go out and enjoy American Craft Beer Week, wherever you are, and always remember: Be Prepared. In this case, that probably means be prepared NOT to drive after your 5th pint. Just a thought.

Stay hydrated and drink well, my friends!

Mark Burlet
Drunken Intellectual
Twitter: @DrunkIntellect

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