Last March, I wrote an article about Louisiana craft beer and listed various bars, restaurants, and events where good beer could be found, but space prevented me from listing the retail options available in the area. Today’s column is intended to focus on grocery stores and specialty shops where craft beer seekers can find bottles to bring home, drink, and share.
At the top of the list is Stein’s Market and Deli (2207 Magazine St., 504-527-0771; ), just as famous for its selection of craft beer bottles as it is for its traditional deli style sandwiches and bagels. Although the deli doesn’t have an on-premises consumption license, the bottles are available for purchase to enjoy at home. Proprietor Dan Stein recently moved the bulk of his stock from the deli area to the back room through the courtyard. The spacious beer storage makes for much easier and enjoyable browsing. There’s a special section for local beer and another for new arrivals. The beer selection at Stein’s is the best in the city. The store carries a fantastic selection of Belgian beers in addition to American craft beer and other imports from England, Germany, France, and Canada. If you can’t find it at Stein’s, it probably isn’t distributed in Louisiana.
Whole Foods Arabella Station (5600 Magazine St., 504-899-9119; ) and Whole Foods Veterans (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-888-8225; ) both have extensive beer selections and beer-savvy staff. You can usually find rare and special beer releases at either of these two stores.
New Orleans Rouses supermarkets (Uptown, 500 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-896-7910; and Mid-City, 400 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-488-2129) have walk-in beer coolers as well as a selection of room temperature six-packs and bombers. Much of the shelf space is taken up by Bud-Miller-Coors (BMC) products, but more and more craft beer and imports are creeping in. The new Rouses location in the CBD (701 Baronne St., 504-227-3838) has an entire aisle devoted to beer and features locally brewed beer and employee picks.
Breaux Mart (3233 Magazine St., 504-262-6019) is my under-the-radar stealth beer retailer. Their selection is small, but often has harder to find bottles that tend to sell out at Stein’s and Whole Foods quickly. Bottles like the Sierra Nevada-Russian River collaboration (Brux) or Stone’s Enjoy By IPA. The Sam Adams Barrel Room Collection, brewed with a special yeast called “Mother Funk” to impart a sour twang to the beer, was also sold at Breaux Mart when released. Like Rouses, Breaux Mart has a special display of local beers, and I often find Bayou Teche special releases (seasonal bombers and six-packs) there before anyplace else.
The former Cork & Bottle liquor store in the American Can Company Building on Orleans Street in Mid-City used to stock an extensive beer selection, formerly curated by local beer blogger and craft beer personality Jeremy “Beer Buddha” Labadie. The ownership changed hands earlier this year, and is now called Pearl Wine Co. (3700 Orleans Ave., 504-483-6314) and Labadie is no longer associated with the company. The number of craft and imported beer labels appear at first glance to be reduced, but I hope that once they settle in, the selection will still be diverse and interesting.
Martin Wine Cellar in New Orleans (3500 Magazine St., 504-894-7420), Metairie (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 504-896-7300), and Mandeville (2895 Hwy. 190, Village Shopping Center, Mandeville, 985-951-8081), all maintain a small but thoughtful stock of craft beer and all locations sponsor occasional beer events. Other wine and liquor stores like Elio’s Wine Warehouse (6205 S. Miro St., 504-866-1852), Keife & Co. (801 Howard Ave., 504-523-7272), Faubourg Wines (2805 St. Claude Ave., 504-342-2217), and even Bacchanal (600 Poland Ave., (504) 948-9111) have been paying more and more attention to their beer selections over the last year or so. As more beers like New Belgium, Southern Tier, Green Flash, Stillwater, Evil Twin, and Prairie Ales have come into the market, retail outfits have had more choice in what to offer and the increasing diversity is a huge improvement to craft beer culture throughout the area.
I would also like to mention a few more bars in the area that didn't make my March list. The Bulldog’s popularity in both their Uptown (3236 Magazine St., 504-891-1516) and Mid-City (5135 Canal Blvd., 504-488-4191) locations has often distracted me from the simple fact that they have a large number of craft beer taps and often have events celebrating local breweries. They also sponsor one of the most popular beer event fundraisers in town, New Orleans on Tap, in partnership with the Louisiana SPCA.
Also: Evangeline in the French Quarter (329 Decatur St., 504-908-8008) popped up on my radar after the article was published, which is why it wasn’t included. For the past year or so, owner Ed Bowdon has been dedicated to serving only local/regional craft beer on draft. Not only serving it, but also educating customers (both locals and tourists) and serving food with local flavor that pairs well with the beers. I highly recommend checking outthis place. He’s recently put Parish Brewing’s Envie on as well as Lazy Magnolia’s newly released Backwoods Belgian. The one puzzling thing is that NOLA Brewing isn’t represented on the taps. I’m not sure where that disconnect is happening, but the selection feels incomplete without NOLA there.
I’m always thrilled to be proven wrong or shown that I’ve overlooked someplace that’s dedicated to craft beer! Please let me know your favorite retail locations in the comments below, I would love to check them out.
— Nora McGunnigle is a freelance writer, blogger, craft beer aficionado, event planner, and regular columnist for Gambit and Southern Brew News. You can follow her blog at www.nolabeerblog.com and read her column every Tuesday on Blog of New Orleans. Please let her know what you think or suggest topics for future columns in the comment section.