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Top of the Hops: Courtyard Brewery Hosts Inaugural Louisiana Hop Festival

On Thursday, Courtyard Brewery will host the first ever Louisiana Hop Festival, a showcase of the best brews from the Boot. The one-day fest will benefit the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild, and offers a chance for hopheads, beer snobs, and brew newbies alike to grab a pint and enjoy music, food, and drinks as the work week comes to an end.


“We’re bringing beer culture back to New Orleans,” said Scott Wood, brewer and owner at Courtyard Brewery. Until the 1930s, the Crescent City was one of the foremost cities for the beer industry. In the almost century that has passed, the brewing business is still fledgling. As NoDef shared a few years back, Courtyard Brewery is Wood’s loving ode to the beer biz — so it makes sense that his logical next move would be a statewide celebration of the brewing community. “There are just thirty or so breweries in Louisiana which, relatively speaking, is a far cry from most other states,” explained Wood. “The fest is celebration of our tight knit community. We want to inspire growth in the industry, as well as generate awareness what we are doing at our breweries.” 


The Courtyard team invited a handful of beer houses to participate, but the majority of the 20+ breweries on the roster came aboard through word of mouth. The full roster as of publication includes the Parish Brewing Company, Gnarly Barley Brewing, NOLA Brewing Company, Urban South Brewery, Great Raft Brewing, Bayou Teche Brewing, Second Line Brewing, Chafunkta Brewing Company, Wayward Owl Brewing, 40 Arpent Brewing, Tin Roof Brewing, Mudbug Brewery, Southern Prohibition, Burial Beer Co., Lagunitas Brewing, Saint Arnold Brewing, Oskar Blues, Ballast Point Brewing, and Maine Beer / Stone Brewing Company. 


Just a handful of breweries repped are out-of-state companies, with the majority of the list offering a comprehensive look at Louisiana brewery trends. The creed inspiring Louisiana Hop is rising tides float all ships, and Wood believes that a celebration of the local beer industry will inspire more New Orleanians to sip and think on their next pint next time they’re around town. “We want new faces, new people to experience what we do and bring them into the fold.” Part of the way Louisiana Hop Fest will do that is by tapping exclusively specialty or one-off beers, and not featuring any beer offered year round. “It’s not just a drink fest,” explained Wood. “We’re celebrating what drove most of us to get into the industry.” And lest the event’s details mislead you (the festival officially begins at 4:20PM on yes, April 20th), the only thing on hand for consumption is beer. 


Courtyard brewed thirteen beers for the fest. A standout offering at the fest is Imaginary Flowers, a collaborative effort between Wood and Matt Horney, the head brewer at Mandeville’s Old Rail Brewing Company. The sour IPA, featuring subtle tartness blending kiwi and lime, touts the skills of the two seasoned brewmasters. They implemented dry hopping, which means to add the hops into the brew after fermentation, to impart flavor and subtle aromatics without the bitterness that goes with hops. Two versions of the Added Dimension — one brew a hibiscus IPA, the other with coconut — will be on hand, as will be beers with names like Cheddar Hawk and S3ND N00dZ. 


Of course, no NOLA event would be complete without a lineup of food vendors and live music. The brewery’s regular Thursday night vendor Taylor Made Wings will be joined by recent James Beard semifinalist Turkey and the Wolf and Stein’s Market and Deli. “Dan Stein is a champion of craft beer in the city,” said Wood of the deli’s storeowner. “He’s a large part of the modern NOLA craft beer awareness.” Bands set to perform are The Bad Mimosas, Sun Year, De Lune Deluge, Strange Roux, and Wahala Boys feat. Weedie. 


There is no cover for the one-day event, though the Courtyard team is offering a presale package for $25 in person /$26 online, which includes a 16 oz glass, commemorative poster, and eight tasting pours. Kids and dogs are welcome at the event. Find the full event details below. 


Louisiana Hop Festival

Courtyard Brewery, 1020 Erato St. 

April 20, 4:20PM-9PM

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