Thursday, January 13, 2011
The Beer Buddha's Beer Geeks Guide To Mardi Gras
So you've decided to head to Nawlins for good ol' Mardi Gras! You and your people, be it your wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, college buddies, whatever, are piling into a car and headed down for a rambunctious time of drinking and partying New Orleans style.
There's only one problem: You are a beer geek and aren't real excited about the prospect of drinking shitty beer the whole time. Well, that's where I come in. This is The Beer Buddha's Beer Geeks Guide To Mardi Gras.
I say guide as if this is going to be some sort of awesome 10 page guide. It isn't. It's more of a list but we're going to call it a guide because I like the sound of it. So anyways, in this guide I will discuss how to make the best of Mardi Gras while being able to maintain your beer geek status. I will tell you best retail places to shop for beer, best places to catch a parade while drinking better beer, best beers to drink while on the parade route and much, much more.
THE FRENCH QUARTER
Most likely if you're coming for Mardi Gras this is where you will spend most of your time. The following places are my recommendations on where you should be able to find good beer:
1) Club Decatur- They have a decent tap list with beers like Stone, Sierra Nevada, NOLA and Abita. They also have a decent bottle list. I would recommend getting bottles. Not sure the last time those taps have been cleaned.
2) Rouses on Royal St.- This is a grocery store but they've got a great selection of beer. Stone, Bayou Teche, Abita, etc. REMEMBER: You CAN walk around the streets with beer but it needs to be either in a can or a plastic cup.
This is the area located according to the City Planning Commission: Iberville, Decatur and Canal Streets to the north, the Mississippi River to the east, the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Julia and Magazine Streets and the Pontchartrain Expressway to the south and South Claiborne Avenue, Cleveland and South and North Derbigny Streets to the west. Basically it's the area with all the big buildings not in the French Quarter. Not much going on in this area beer wise but here is my pick:
1) Gordon Biersch- There is no beer to go option but if you want to get away from the crush and chaos of the crowd this is a great place to get fresh beer and good food.
2) Ugly Dog Saloon - Good beer and great BBQ. Nuff said.
If you're looking for good music go to Frenchman Street. If you're looking for good music and good beer go here:
1) dba- Owned by the same guy that owns the one in NY. The one in New Orleans however seems to focus more on music than beer. Still has a good beer selection though.
For all tense and purposes we're going to just use the term Uptown. There is more to Uptown than just Uptown but we'll just make it easy. I'm sure people will want to argue with me but let it go. Again we're trying to make it easy for the tourists.
1) Avenue Pub- In my opinion there is no other place to go bar wise. You can catch almost ALL the parades from right here and also have the best beers in the city to choose from. Please note that the beers will be served in plastic cups because of the no glass outside rule and because it'll get way too busy in there for them to serve in proper glassware.
2) Steins Deli- If you're looking for a great selection to take back to your hotel room look no further than Steins. You can't drink on premise but you can stock up here. Make sure you get a sandwich and tell Dan the Eagles suck. He might give you a discount for saying it.
3)Slice Pizza- Damn good beer selection and even better pizza! AND located right on the parade route.
4) Squeal- This BBQ joint has a very nice selection of craft beer while also having some kick ass BBQ. Oh and the BBQ tacos kick major ass!
5) Whole Foods- It's Whole Foods. You've been to Whole Foods I'm sure. This one on Magazine St has a great beer selection.
6) Breaux Mart- This small locally owned grocery store also located on Magazine St has a nice diverse selection of craft and imports. They even have a section devoted solely to local beers.
7) Cooter Browns - a legend in New Orleans. Nice beer selection on tap and huge bottle selection. DO NOT go by their online beer list as it hasn't been updated in a long time. They have beers on the list that aren't even distributed here. I would highly recommend the cheese fries, Radiator's Special and the NOLA Philly.
8) The Bulldog - Large selection of beers on tap and decent bottle selection. Nice outdoor patio which can be irrelevant in cold weather. Check out the outside fountain made from taps and also make sure to try the Crawfish Banditos.
9) Le Bon Temps - This place is a true dive bar and can get rowdy at times. I've seen(yes seen- I used to live right down the street) someone who had been shot right out front of the bar. That being said it's a must go to in my opinion because it's a great neighborhood bar. You can get NOLA on tap here as well. The night to go is Thursday nights to check out the Soul Rebels Brass Band. Go early cause it gets packed.
If you're in Midcity it's only because a local dragged you to see Endymion. But if you find yourself out there here is where you go!
1) Cork & Bottle- I'm gonna give you a disclaimer here. I WORK AT CORK & BOTTLE AS THE BEER GUY. But since I'm The Beer Buddha you'd think you'd want to make the trek and find out what I'm up to. Great beer selection and I even carry the cheap stuff like PBR and Miller High Life.
2) The Bulldog Midcity - See The Bulldog Uptown. The difference is there is a lot more space at this location. Crawfish Banditos still apply.
METAIRIE AND NORTHSHORE
If you're at a Metairie or Northshore parade you aren't at Mardi Gras. It's like your best friend feeding you store brand mac and cheese instead of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. It's not the real thing. Whoever the friend was that convinced you that this was Mardi Gras lied to you. They aren't really your friends.
BEER BUDDHA'S TIPS AND THINGS TO REMEMBER
1) Don't be a douche. Tip your bartender.
2) You are "allowed" to drink outside. Make sure it's either in a plastic cup or in a can.
3) BE CAREFUL! Like any major urban city New Orleans can be dangerous. We have our share of crime so always beer aware.
4) Downtown generally equals the "adult" Mardi Gras whereas Uptown is mostly the "family" Mardi Gras. Gray areas occur.
5) If you don't like crowds Mardi Gras isn't the place for you but Uptown would be your best bet.
6) NOLA Brewing makes these things called draft packs. PERFECT for parades in my opinion. It's a full case of craft beer for around $40.
7) Showing your boobs and or junk is still a crime. You could still get arrested for this.
8) Unlike the parades you've been to our floats throw stuff off of them so like your old football coach from high school said, "Keep your head on a swivel!" Or if you played golf, "FOUR!!!!" Getting a smack in the face from some beads isn't fun so pay attention.
9) Yes it's true the beads aren't jewels or anything valuable but be careful. People will fight and claw for those damn beads. And DON'T pick them up off the ground cause you may have a little old granny stepping on your hand to get them.
10) Just because there is trash on the ground doesn't give you the right to throw more. Please respect our city and look for a trashcan. If it's full at least get the garbage in the general vicinity of the can.
ADDITIONAL TIPS FROM POLLY OF AVENUE PUB
1) It's a marathon not a sprint.
2) Most places charge for bathrooms but if they don't please try and buy something.
3) Know what you want before you approach the bar and order everything all at once. It'll make your life and your bartenders life much easier.
4) Get off your cell phone when ordering from your bartender.
5) TIP your bartender!
6) Don't play Jimmy Buffet on the jukebox over and over again.
7) Bringing food to the bartenders would be a nice gesture since most of them have probably not had something to eat for over 9 hours. Makes a great impression.
TOP 5 CANNED BEERS AVAILABLE IN NEW ORLEANS
1) Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout- Damn good stout in a can.
2) Southern Star Bombshell Blonde- I'm not a big fan but people like it and it's craft beer.
3) Heiner Brau Kolsch- The perfect beer for the parade route in a can.
4) Big Flats 1901- Yeah I said it. At $3.49 for a six pack you can't go wrong.
5) PBR- Cheap and good.
**So as you have noted I don't have Oscar Blues, Yuengling or New Belgium Fat Tire listed. It's because they don't distribute here.**
Well that's it folks. Hope you find this helpful when you come for Mardi Gras. I know for a fact that some of my local readers will be adding to the list so make sure you check the comments as well.
The Beer Buddha