My first visit to NOLA Brewing was in early 2010 for an impromptu brewery tour of what consisted of little more than a warehouse with two fermentation tanks and a conference room with mismatched chairs. Six years later, NOLA Brewing has expanded its base to cover the entire block of Tchoupitoulas between 7th and 8th Streets, adding a tap room where Neil McClure and his team serve a wide selection of regional barbecue fare along with a few house specialties. After starting as a popup at Dante’s Kitchen and opening as a restaurant on Magazine, McClure now plies his craft solely inside the tap room, where thirsty patrons praise his barbecue as a complement to the diverse list of beers, many of which are offered exclusively at the brewery.
While brisket and pork are given top billing on the menu, the fat links of spicy chaurice sausage (the Creole counterpart to Spanish chorizo) and the delectably moist leg quarters of smoked chicken are the most consistent carnivorous crowd pleasers.
Similarly delicious are ribs encompassed in a dark crust followed by a pink smoke ring that gives way to pork just barely on the right side of tender. Appropriately thick-cut slices of brisket were meltingly tender on one visit, but chewy and dry on the next.
Available for your accenting pleasure are six sauces, each of which pays tribute to a barbecue region. Lilywhite Alabama sauce is speckled with black pepper and adds a nice twang to the pulled pork, while ribs beg to be dunked in the NOLA East, sweet, spicy and salty with soy.
A deep roster of side dishes includes beans loaded with pork, and leafy collard greens slowstewed with a sweet and sour likker of vinegar and molasses. Macaroni and cheese achieves a level of creaminess not often found outside of a package of Velveeta, while chopped celery adds a welcome crunch to fork-tender spuds in potato salad that’s woefully under-seasoned.
Hands down the best side dish is barbecue jambalaya, a moist medley of rice and morsels of meat. The extensive menu incorporates barbecue in other forms, such as tacos, nachos and poutine—a hangover cure of waffle fries, cheese curds and brisket (or pork) covered in gravy.
Wash it all down with one of more than a dozen beers on tap, such as a blonde infused with beet juice or one of the many sour beers. While the Tap Room caters to patrons of legal drinking age, minors are allowed if accompanied by an adult. A second-story rooftop bar is a perfect perch to watch ships pass along the river, but come Sundays, the best seats in the house will be downstairs where Saints fans hopefully will be celebrating many victories with brisket.
3001 Tchoupitoulas St.; Wed–Mon: 11a–10p; (504) 301-2367; mccluresbarbecue.com