Hops in Your Heart

Eric Jensen loves to brew beer. He started his hobby the way most of his contemporaries start, by producing beer in their kitchens, basements or garages. His first brews were fermented in his New Orleans shed.  His friends and family happily imbibed his early efforts and eagerly awaited the next tasty batch.

Three years ago, his hobby turned into his dream. Eric and Leah, his wife, decided what they wanted to do with their lives was to bring the New Orleans community together over beer. 

They came up with a solid business plan, found and bought the perfect Bywater property and racked up hours and hours of hard work to see that dream turn into a microbrewery and taproom on the corner of Royal and Lesseps streets.

Four days ago, Parleaux Beer Lab opened its doors to customers. The Jensens are slowly rolling out their business with limited hours on the weekends.

“We want to grow organically as we respond to the community,” Leah said.

One of the first things the couple did was to present their plan to the Bywater Neighborhood Association. It was important to them to get their neighbors’ thoughts and approval before opening the first brewery in the Bywater neighborhood since prohibition.

“We wanted them to know we would be an asset to the neighborhood,” Leah said. “We want to be a gathering spot that’s welcoming to everyone.”

“The cool place to hang out with friends and family,” Eric added. “We gained their full support and some members even seemed very excited about the idea.”

The Jensens worked with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center that helped them through every step of their journey.


“The biggest part was establishing a relationship with a bank,” Eric said. “We went with Mississippi River Bank.  We never felt nervous calling Jeff Ramos to say there was a hold up here or there. He understood the process and works one-on-one with us.”

Parleaux has a 2,000-square-foot brewery and taproom with 12 taps, 2,000 square feet upstairs, which will eventually be used for small events, and a small house to grow into. Then there is the inviting 8,000-square-foot outdoor beer garden complete with a wide variety of fruit trees. The produce will ultimately end up in some of Eric’s recipes, a farm-to-stein effort if you will.

“I specializes in farmhouse beers and I like to focus on flavor,” Eric said. “I like to push the boundaries of where beer can go and find flavors that complement each other.”

For example, he blends a variety of flavors from tart cherry and lemon grass to a blend of sage, rosemary and cranberry. Parleaux also offers homemade sodas and iced coffee and teas to go along with its family-friendly feel.

The couple is making a conscious effort to repurpose materials, from turning a shipping container into a quirky sitting area and using cable spools for tables.

They haven’t done any marketing but already the taproom is bustling with customers who wander in and happily sample Eric’s brews. I appraised a few myself and especially enjoyed Parleaux’s crisp Farmhouse Saison.

“Working with small batches like we do, we’re able to try a lot of different things here,” Eric said. “So we will always be offering something new.”

“Our taproom is our focus group,” added Leah. “After one or two years we will know what we should put into our kegs and sell to bars.”

Parleaux employs four people, who all live in the Bywater. When asked about when the couple might expect to receive a salary themselves.

Eric joked, “Get back to us on that. Right now we just love what we do.”



Parleaux Beer Lab

 634 Lesseps St

(504) 702-8433



Hours: Friday: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.


Parleaux’s hours will expand beginning New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Hours: Thursdays and Fridays: 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturdays: 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Sundays 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.


Categories: Labors of Love