If I told you that on this edition of Out to Lunch we’re talking about two types of alcohol – one that you can make at home, and one that’s made by professionals, and that one of them is wine and the other is beer – you’d naturally assume we’re talking about a winery on the one hand, and home-brew beer on the other.
Well, you’re 180 degrees off. We’re talking about New Orleans first craft beer brewery. And home-made wine. Yes, home-made wine.
If you didn’t know there was such a thing as home-made wine, well, apparently there is, and – here’s a shocker – most of it reportedly tastes pretty bad. That’s why Liam Meier and Neal Shulman spent a good deal of 2020 – which you might recall was the year bars were closed – holed up at home perfecting their DIY wine product, Brewsy.
Brewsy is a wine and cider-making kit that the company says, “takes 15 minutes to start and 5 days to finish.”A single Brewsy kit will run you $45. You choose which juice to add. And you make 12-18 bottles of wine. That comes to about $2.12 a bottle.
If you’re thinking this is a crazy idea that’s never going to take off, Brewsy already has 5 full time employees – and they’ve sold over 20,000 kits.
This episode of Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza. It’s the pizza restaurant in the taproom at New Orleans longest running craft brewery, NOLA Brewing. Given our long history and love of alcohol in this city, you might expect that NOLA Brewing was founded in 1808. Actually, it was founded in 2008.
Although in the past, New Orleans has been home to breweries like Jax, Falstaff, Regal and Dixie, by the time Hurricane Katrina blew through here in 2005, there was no beer at all being brewed in New Orleans. Then, in 2008, a retired US Navy Surface Warfare Officer by the name of Kirk Coco built and opened NOLA Brewing.
In the beginning, Kirk Coco’s landlord was Doug Walner. Doug was also an investor in NOLA Brewing.
Ten years later, in 2018, Kirk moved on to other interests. Doug Walner became the major shareholder in NOLA Brewing, and built a pizzeria, NOLA Pizza, into the business. Today NOLA Brewing produces around 10,000 barrels of beer a year, which puts it in the top 20% of breweries nationwide. And NOLA Pizza is winning food critic awards for best tasting pizza in the city.
Photos by Jill Lafleur.
Go back to 2015 with this very candid conversation with NOLA Brewing founder Kirk Coco.