The Courtyard Brewery

From the first time visitors walk up the well-trodden ramp leading into the converted warehouse known as Courtyard Brewery, they know they’re in for something different. A loading dock door is open, with customers hanging out on the concrete patio that overlooks a parking lot ringed with giant bamboo. Food trucks are often there, parked just a few feet from the front door, with dining selections that are as diverse as the beers themselves.

Inside, the bar is packed with beer lovers who are sampling from one of Courtyard Brewery’s constantly changing selection of house-made beers, or from one of more than a dozen other craft beers from around the globe.

Courtyard Brewery opened in October 2014, and has been called New Orleans’ first nanobrewery, a term that co-owner Lindsay Hellwig describes as “barebones” and neighborhood-oriented.

Nanobreweries are also known for their highly specialized beer selection, and Courtyard Brewery definitely fits that description. “You won’t see our beers anywhere other than in our taproom,” Hellwig says.

For her and co-owner (and husband) Scott Wood, Courtyard Brewery is all about creating something for the community. The company began as a neighborhood project when Wood and Hellwig began homebrewing in their French Quarter courtyard (hence the company’s name), and has blossomed into what it is today: a small-batch brewery with a 19-tap bar, where the couple themselves serve their mostly local clientele. She estimates that the majority of their customers come from within a 10-block radius.

The next time you’re in New Orleans’ Garden District, stop in and see what’s on tap, and be sure to ask the stories behind the beers. The names alone are enough to pique your curiosity, with names like Sonic Youth in 1983 (a popular hybrid IPA with a tropical fruit aroma and flavor), Cosmic Shake (an American pale ale), How Can Anything Ever End? (an American brown ale) and the IPA known simply as Baby IPA, named for its low alcohol-by-volume content.

A few other beer names to grab your attention: Keystone of the Underground, Nome Alaska 1888 and a wheat ale called “Beeer!” If those don’t happen to be on tap when you visit, just ask your bartender (likely Wood or Hellwig) for a recommendation. They’ll have plenty.

As for the future of Courtyard Brewery, Hellwig says she’s more interested in developing a good community vibe than in dominating the brew-niverse.

Long-term, their goal is to open more neighborhood breweries, “the kind that were popular before Prohibition,” Hellwig says. Considering the large volume of customers who have visited Courtyard Brewery so far, that dream is well within reach.