Tapping a Movement

If you like drinking beer as well as being nice to animals, one weekend event should be doubly attractive. 


The Bulldog Bar and the Louisiana SPCA have teamed up for the second year in a row to bring you New Orleans on Tap: a five-hour, short-but-sweet craft beer extravaganza set for Saturday in City Park.


Whether you're a beer enthusiast who can tell the difference between a German and an English-style ale from one sip, or just a New Orleanian who likes the brew, this festival is not to be missed. New Orleans on Tap will showcase over 200 different beers, from local, national, and international breweries, as well as about a dozen home brewers. The beers start pouring at 2 p.m. and only last until 7 p.m. The whole event will take place under the shade in City Park at the Boathouse on the Big Lake. Admission is free, and nearby parking only costs $5. For those who plan to be doing some heavy tasting, Southern Eagle is offering free cab rides home.


Last year was the first year of this beer festival in New Orleans, and organizers report it was an amazing success.


The Bulldog, which is ranked as one of the top 100 beer bars in the country, approached LA/SPCA with the idea last year, and communications director


“We weren't sure we could pull it off, but we knew we wanted to try,” said LA/SPCA Communications Director Katherine LeBlanc. 


More than 3,000 people attended, raising a total of $27,500 for the Louisiana SPCA (LA/SPCA). This year, more than 5,000 people are expected to attend, and whatever kinks existed in the festival's first incarnation have been smoothed out.


Ticket sales for beer, food and raffle prizes all go to the Louisiana SPCA. 


“This year's going to have a smooth flow to it,” says Bayou Teche brewmaster Karlos Knott.


The New Orleans on Tap event is riding the wave of the American Craft Beer movement, which is Americans “straying away from the typical yellow, fizzy beers we have been accustomed to,” in the words of Joey Knesel, general manager of the Bulldog. In the past few years, microbreweries and craft beers have seen a huge surge in popularity, and now the craze has come down South.


With the exception of  Abita Beer (who will be represented at the fest), which has been pumping out delicious Louisiana brew since 1986, microbreweries down here are a relatively recent phenomenon.  Southern brewers “have kind of had to catch up with the rest of the country,” says Knott of Bayou Teche, but now they've got “[their] own spin on the craft beer,” and they're doing just fine.


Bayou Teche became a legal brewery in March of last year, and has enjoyed considerable success since. Knott, who describes himself and just about everyone else at Bayou Teche as “brewmaster, janitor, and groundskeeper," says a second brewery is on the way, and business is expanding into Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. He also expects to begin experimenting with seasonal brews next year.


The Tin Roof Brewing Company sold its first batch of beer in November, 2010, and can already be found all over southern Louisiana. NOLA Brewing Company, founded in 2008, as well as Heiner Brau, based in Covington, and Lazy Magnolia, from Mississippi are all fairly recent additions to the craft brewing scene, and all are thriving. More importantly, all of the above will be available to taste for as little a $1 on Saturday. And don't fret, if you're less of a taster and more of a good, old-fashioned drinker, full-size beers are available as well, starting at just $3.


Wine, margaritas, and soft drinks will also be for sale, so if you're not a beer fanatic but find yourself in City Park on Saturday afternoon, don't be shy. Besides drinks, there will be hot dogs, hamburgers, jambalaya, and Zapp's chips aplenty to fulfill your stomach's other needs, and live music from Rotary Downs and Flow Tribe to please your ears. In addition, prizes will be raffled off to a few lucky people, which include, among other things, coveted Saints vs. Falcons tickets for the December 26 showdown in Da Dome.


For more information and a full list of breweries, beers, and sponsors, check out neworleansontap.org.


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