“I can’t wait for people to try Dixie again,” says Dixie Brewing Company General Manager, Jim Birch.
Try it again? This may seem like a strange thing to say about a beer brand that has been around since 1907, but Jim is referring to Dixie Beer’s return to New Orleans and its rebirth as a local brand.
In January of 2020, Dixie will restore all brewing production to the city of New Orleans with an 85,000 square foot New Orleans East facility, which includes a 100-barrel brewhouse and a 15-barrel craft system. Dixie Brewery will be open to the public, offering tours and tastings, serving food, and welcoming visitors for various events and recreational activities.
Dixie Beer: A Brief History
Dixie Beer went through a lot to get to this point. The company hit its first major setback in the 1920s when Prohibition forced many breweries around the country to close. Dixie stayed open as a beverage company, allegedly only making less than 0.5% alcohol “near beer.” However, following two raids by federal agents, Dixie was fined for making actual beer.
After Prohibition’s repeal, Dixie resumed brewing operations, created new jobs, and continued to thrive through the 1940s and 50s. But in the 60s, the popularity of large macro breweries, plus the accidental release of a batch of off-tasting beer, contributed to a decline in sales lasting for decades.
In an effort to revitalize Dixie, the brewers launched their first super premium beer, Blackened Voodoo Lager. After the beer received praise and attention in the press, the state of Texas banned Blackened Voodoo, saying the name was associated with cults and witchcraft. However, the ban only made the beer more popular and increased sales.
Unfortunately, a decade later, Hurricane Katrina flooded Dixie Brewery, destroying equipment, packaging, and products. Rather than completely close its doors, Dixie worked with contractors to brew its beer outside the state.
Dixie Brewery: Tradition and Innovation
Now, Dixie is moving back to its home in New Orleans! Following its purchase by Tom and Gayle Benson, owners of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, the New Orleans East facility will soon begin brewing Dixie Beer’s three flagship brands – Dixie Lager, Dixie Light, and Dixie Blackened Voodoo.
Dixie also has plans to release extensions to the Voodoo brand, including a white ale and an IPA, and it will have special innovation beers available only to those who visit the taproom. These innovation beers will rotate constantly and will include craft styles like gose and stout.
In addition to beer tastings, visitors will be able to tour the production facility and learn about the 100 plus year history of beer-brewing in New Orleans. The kitchen will serve food Wednesday to Sunday, and visitors can take advantage of an outdoor patio and green space with three bocce courts, volleyball, corn hole, and a fire pit.
The interior of the brewery is decorated with the original Dixie Letters that once adorned the Superdome and a graphical display of the history of brewing in New Orleans.
When visitors walk around the brewery, they may notice the Dixie labs – here you can see the team testing through every part of the brewing process. In addition to testing Dixie products, the lab team will perform analysis for any Louisiana brewery for free.
Birch said it best, “This is the opportunity for a whole new generation to have a Dixie story.”
Dixie Brewery opens January 25, 2020.