The pilsner I ordered was properly crisp, clean-tasting and quite flavorful with a light, Germanic hop aroma. It tasted better than the Munich pilsners that I remembered from there (I like the broadly similar Helles, style more in Munich; the Czechs do those delicately perfumed and nuanced pilsners much better in my opinion). The pilsner was excellent, and perfect after traipsing around the Quarter for the previous hour. After finishing the half-liter pour – the only size they serve it seems – I had their version of the Vienna-style lager, the Red Stallion. Medium-bodied with its copper color denoting a good malt presence, lightly hopped, it was a very pleasant pint-plus. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the pilsner, but still a nice beer that was obviously very well made. All of the beers are made in house utilizing the large, attractive copper vessel set behind the bar and according to the Reinheitsgebot, the German purity law of 1516. Only malt, hops, yeast and water are used in the beers, helping ensure some level of clarity of flavors.
In addition to the Pilsner and Red Stallion, the Crescent City Brewhouse always has a Weiss, a Bavarian-style hefe-weizen, and the Black Forest on tap, plus a seasonal beer in a range of styles. I tasted my brother’s Weiss. With prominent aromas of banana, it did not taste like one of the sweeter hefe-weizens that I expected, but was a bit drier and more balanced and an excellent version of the style and perfect for those many warm and humid months in New Orleans. I didn’t sample the Black Forest, which is described as a beer that’s “rich…malty…sparsely hopped, in the traditional Munich style” which sounds a lot like the Dunkel style that’s a feature of all of the Munich breweries.
I find it amazing that a brewpub in the French Quarter, just a couple of blocks from Jackson Square, serves such top-quality beer. The beers are a good deal better than they need to be. As people seem to especially enjoy beers made on site, brewpubs can usually get by with mediocre or even awful beers, the buzz of the pub, and the alcoholic beers, helps to obscure the handiwork of less-than-skilled brewmasters. And, that the Crescent City Brewhouse is doing it with lagers is even more impressive, as lagers, especially lighter-bodied and light-colored are very difficult to brew well on a consistent basis. There are not too many small breweries in this country that are doing it well. Few, are doing it as well as is done in the French Quarter.
The Crescent City Brewhouse is definitely worth a detour for fans of Bavarian-style lagers. Easy to drop in and out, there is often a jazz band playing near the entrance and bar. The quartet featuring an alto sax, bass, drums and, somewhat oddly, an electric guitar, was first-rate last weekend with a fresh, if mid-century sound well removed from Dixieland. If you don’t have time to sit for pint, you can always get a cup to go dispensed at a counter facing the sidewalk. And, you’ll likely be drinking something better – certainly more pure – than those other tourists with their plastic cups.
Crescent City Brewhouse
527 Decatur Street (two blocks southwest of Jackson Square in the French Quarter)
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130, (504) 522-0571