Dixie Brewing Company

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Dixie Brewing Company
IndustryAlcoholic beverage
Founded1907 (1907)
FounderValentine Merz[1]
Headquarters3501 Jourdan Road, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
ProductsBeer
Production output
1,000,000 cases (pre-Katrina)[2]
OwnerGayle Benson (majority owner)
Joe and Kendra Bruno (minority owners)
Websitewww.dixiebeer.com Edit this on Wikidata
Original Dixie Brewery on Tulane Avenue in 1907, New Orleans

The Dixie Brewing Company is a regional brewery founded in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 31, 1907.[1] The brewing operation was located on Tulane Avenue until 2005 when it closed due to Hurricane Katrina. Beer was contract brewed out-of-state until November 2019 when a new brewery opened in New Orleans.[3]

History[edit]

An old Dixie Beer outdoor advertisement, revealed during renovation in New Orleans' Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.

Dixie Brewing was founded by Valentine Merz, and began production in 1907.[1] The original brick Dixie Brewery building at 2401 Tulane Avenue at the corner of Tulane Avenue and Tonti Street was designed by the German architect Louis Lehle and completed in 1907 with a wooden extension added in 1919.[4] During Prohibition, the company became the "Dixie Beverage Company."[1]

In 1983, Dixie was sold to a New Orleans based corporation, Coy International.[5] In November 1985, it was purchased by Joseph and Kendra Elliott Bruno and in 1989 its owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[6] After emerging reorganized in 1992, the brewery produced a new line of speciality beers, Blackened Voodoo (a dark lager), Crimson Voodoo (a red ale) and in 1993 introduced Jazz Amber Light.[6][7][8]

Original Dixie Brewery, 2401 Tulane Avenue; post-Katrina photograph

In 2005, the Dixie Brewery was severely damaged when Mid-City New Orleans flooded from the levee failure disaster during Hurricane Katrina. After the area was drained the brewery complex was looted with much of the equipment stolen. Despite early post-Katrina claims that the brewery would be restored and efforts being made to encourage local government to support the return of the brewery, it never reopened.[9][10] With the closing of the original brewery, Dixie Beer’s production was contract brewed at Joseph Huber Brewing Company in Monroe, Wisconsin.[11]

When the brewery didn't reopen on Tulane Avenue, the closed brewery building was incorporated into the footprint of the new Department of Veterans Affairs hospital built in New Orleans' Mid-City neighborhood. During restoration, the focus was on stabilizing the structure. Liz Failla, project coordinator for the VA said, "Right now, what we're doing is stabilizing the structure that we're going to maintain, which is that iconic tower with the Dixie Brewery on there." The design preserves and repairs the six- and four-story sections of the old brewery. Failla also said a modern brick and glass structure will rise from behind the historic facade.[12]

Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans, bought a majority stake in the Dixie brand in 2017 from Joe and Kendra Bruno, with plans of returning the brewing operation to New Orleans within two years.[13] After Tom Benson's death on March 15, 2018, his wife Gayle Benson took control of the majority stake in the brewery.[14]

On August 7, 2018, it was announced a new Dixie Brewery will be built in Eastern New Orleans featuring a replica of the brick tower at Dixie's original brewery and metal letters that were removed from the exterior of the original brewery.[3][14] The brewery and taproom were built in an 80,000-square-foot portion of an existing warehouse located on a 14-acre property.[14] A private event space above the taproom has a bar made from a vintage fermenting tank also removed from the original brewery.[3] A kitchen off the taproom offers bar snacks and food, while the area just past the on-site beer garden hosts food trucks.[3][14] The property also includes a beer museum, a grassy meadow with a pond, walking paths, fire pits and an area for yard games.[3][14]

In June 2019, Dixie Beer's production was moved from Monroe, Wisconsin to the Blues City Brewery in Memphis, Tennessee before its return to New Orleans.[11][14]

On November 25, 2019, the Dixie Brewing Company began brewing at their new brewery in New Orleans, marking the first time Dixie was brewed in New Orleans since 2005.[15] On January 25, 2020, the brewery had its official groundbreaking and the facility opened to the public.[16]

Popular culture[edit]

The brewery and/or its beer have been featured notably in films including RED, Southern Comfort, Steel Magnolias, Stone Cold, Tigerland and Tightrope.[17] It is briefly mentioned in the novels A Confederacy of Dunces, American Psycho and True Blood.[18][citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Dixie". NOLABrewHistory.com. 2011. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  2. ^ Ian McNulty (February 20, 2007), Confederacy of Suds, Gambit Weekly, archived from the original on 2007-03-18, retrieved 2013-05-03
  3. ^ a b c d e McNulty, Ian (September 16, 2019). "Dixie Brewery rebirth update: See timeline, plans for New Orleans East beer garden, new brews". The Times-Picayune. NOLA.com. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Dixie Brewery faces uncertain future as former owners sue the federal government". nola.com. March 26, 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Dixie is for sale". dixiebeer.com. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Dixie out of Chapter 11 proceedings". Modern Brewery Age. TheFreeLibrary.com. March 2, 1992. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  7. ^ "Dixie". Distinguished Brands. Archived from the original on 2004-06-29. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  8. ^ "Dixie debuts new Jazz Amber Light". Modern Brewery Age. TheFreeLibrary.com. May 24, 1993. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  9. ^ Couple Vows to Get Beer Flowing Again in 'Dixie', a June 2006 NPR article. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  10. ^ Bring Dixie Home website Archived July 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  11. ^ a b "New Dixie Brewery Looks To The Future". americancraftbeer.com/. October 10, 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  12. ^ Murphy, Paul (September 29, 2014). "Old Dixie Brewery to become VA research center". WWLTV.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  13. ^ Sayre, Katherine (July 26, 2017). "Tom Benson to build Dixie Beer brewery in New Orleans". The Times-Picayune. NOLA.com. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Larino, Jennifer (August 7, 2018). "Dixie Beer is back: New brewery planned for New Orleans East". nola.com. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  15. ^ Monteverde, Danny (29 November 2019). "Dixie Beer brewing again in New Orleans for the first time since Katrina". wwltv.com. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  16. ^ "New Orleans officially welcomes back Dixie Brewery". wwltv.com. 25 January 2020. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  17. ^ Clint Eastwood movie "Tightrope", 1984. from IMDb. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  18. ^ John Kennedy Toole (1987). A Confederacy of Dunces. p. 9. ISBN 0802130208.

Coordinates: 29°59′47″N 90°01′09″W / 29.996494°N 90.019051°W / 29.996494; -90.019051

External links[edit]