Parleaux Beer Lab

Parleaux Beer Lab’s name will tell you a lot about the company. Just ask brewery cofounder Leah Jensen.

Par means ‘by’ and leau means ‘water’ in French, and we decided to call that because of the neighborhood we’re in,” she explains. The brewery is located in the Bywater, one of New Orleans’ trendier parts of town, near the banks of the Mississippi River. The French translation is a nod to the city’s Francophone history, and the brewery’s name speaks to Parleaux Beer Lab’s investment in the community.

As for the “Beer Lab” part? According to Jensen, “We didn’t want to call it a brewing company because we are experimental. We don’t have a flagship beer. We want to experiment with local flavors and ingredients.”

Jensen’s husband, cofounder and brewmaster Eric Jensen, makes small batches that are often one-offs, sometimes never to be seen or tasted again. If customers want more, then he’ll make more. But a steady roster of select brews is not on the horizon.

“It allows the brewers to be creative,” Jensen says. “For the brewers, it’s not fun to do the same brews day in day out. We don’t want to be cogs in the machine, and in the past three months since opening, we haven’t brewed the same batch twice.”

So what has Parleaux made so far? Some beers you’ve most likely never tasted elsewhere. The Jensens have made everything from a raspberry- and cherry-aged stout to a summer gose beer made with ginger, lime peel, Himalayan pink salt and coriander. Oh, and there’s also been a German altbier made with rooibos tea — just one of many flavors that even seasoned beer fans don’t see on menus regularly.

Eventually, Jensen says, “Our customers will tell us what they want our flagship beer to be.”

That’s another unique aspect to Parleaux: its uncompromising commitment to the community. The family-friendly brewery hosts yoga, local food vendors and food trucks in its courtyard. There are even monthly puppy parties, where dogs are allowed to run, unleashed, through the backyard citrus orchard. The simple, unpretentious vibe is evident in the tap room as well, where benches and picnic tables inside the facility sit next just a few feet away from the beermaking equipment, giving customers an up-close look at where their beer was made.

Parleaux is the kind of place where, if you live in the neighborhood, you’ll likely run into folks you know. And if you’re just visiting, you’re likely to make a few new friends as well — four-legged and otherwise.