The brew pub Crescent City Brewhouse (527 Decatur St., 504-522-0571; www.crescentcitybrewhouse.com) has served craft beer in the French Quarter since certified German Brewmaster Wolfram “Wolf” Koehler opened it in 1991. Back then, “A lack of good beer in New Orleans seemed to be a perfect invitation for a German brewmaster looking for a place to put a brewery,” he says.
Koehler grew up in the Bavarian region of Germany and began working at a brewery at 16. He “hated every minute of it,” he says. But the following year, he apprenticed at another brewery, and after two more years he became eligible to go to Berlin to study the science behind brewing and become a Brewmaster.
After a six-year stint in Belize and working in breweries throughout Europe, Koehler arrived in New Orleans in August 1989. He opened Crescent City Brewhouse in a historic French Quarter building in January 1991, after convincing the Vieux Carre Commission that his plan for a European-style brewhouse would have a low environmental impact on the area. “I had no idea it was going to be this kind of monster,” he says. “I thought it would be more like, I brew during the day, I sell beer at night, and in between I grill sausages.”
Koehler’s Pilsner is the brewpub’s most popular beer and his personal favorite. The regular selection also includes a marzen-style red/amber ale, a dark lager and a wheat beer. Crescent City also has a full bar, and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily. There’s a live jazz band in the evening and Crescent City often showcases work by local artists.
Koehler's passion for beer and the craft of brewing is rooted in respect for tradition. “Beer is a very sacred and simple concoction of four ingredients,” he says. “What I’m doing is what people have been drinking for the last 500 years.”
The Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots hosts the Tails and Ales Beer Festival Saturday in conjunction with its Summer Quarter Horse Meet. Beer gardens will be set up throughout the second, third and fourth floors of the Grandstands and more than 125 beers will be available for sampling. Abita Brewing Co. is sponsoring the event, and there are brews from Abita, Bayou Teche, NOLA Brewing, Shiner Beers, Tin Roof, Goose Island Beer as well as Guinness, Newcastle, Blue Moon, Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard Hard Cider. The event begins at 4 p.m. and pouring ends at 8 p.m. The first post time is 4 p.m. Tickets to Tales and Ales are $35 in advance, $40 at the door; VIP admission includes food and 3 p.m. entrance for $70 in advance/$75 at the door; designated driver tickets are $15 in advance/$25 at the door.
•Is it worth it? Yes. For about $40, you get to experience dishes at (usually) four different restaurants all in one night.
•Are people like myself there? There were people of all ages and backgrounds there, locals, transplants and tourists. Some people came in groups, but several were rolling solo. I met someone who works for Apple, a reiki practitioner, a home health care nurse and a college counselor.
•How is the food? Pretty good. The tacos I had were all decent, with one restaurant's being stellar. I'm sure other Dishcrawls are better, since the chefs can provide their best dishes instead of dishes that fit with the theme.
•What's the booze situation like? You can buy drinks.
•Can the restaurants handle my dietary restrictions? Yes. Just let your Dishcrawl ambassador know in advance, and it will be done.
•Do you have to do a lot of walking? Everything is within walking distance.
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