Will Dixie Brewing be back?
Looking at the tattered brewery in an equally battered New Orleans neighborhood it hardly seems likely – but New Orleanians obviously don’t give up easily.
Last week there wasn’t a soul to be seen at the brewery – and the phone has been disconnected. The courtyard behind a gate with a large D looks long abandoned. A variety of kegs are scattered about and – this is a little strange – one of four taps on the wall has a blue cup on top.
Because Hurricane Katrina flooded the brewery with about 10 feet of water six months ago it seems that cup must have been put on the tap after that.
Everything on the first floor of the multi-level building was submerged and ruined, but the brewhouse and historic cyrpress tanks occupy higher floors. Presumably they can still be used.
Owners Joe and Kendra Bruno have said they will reopen. “We’re still standing, and that is the important thing,” Kendra Bruno told Modern Bevrage Age. “The whole bottling line must be replaced, but we will do that. Our 100th anniversary is coming in 2007, so we have a lot of work to do.”
The Brunos said they are examining offers from several regional brewers to produce Dixie beer under contract. Candidates include Spoetzl (which brews Shiner) in Texas, City Brewing in Wisconsin and the D.G. Yuengling Brewing Co.
“Dixie will rise again,” Kendra Bruno said.
More beer upates for around New Orleans:
- If anything, Abita beers (brewed on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain) are easier to find around town than ever, both on draft and in bottles. That includes Restoration Ale, which supports disaster recovery.
- Gordon-Biersch opened Jan. 23, and with Harrah’s Casino across the street reopening in mid-February the brewpub is doing a brisk business.
- Crescent City Brewhouse (right) reopened in late November and a banner hangs out front reads “Brewing is back in the French Quarter.” The current special is “Chocolate City Ale,” a distinctly bitter stout that takes its name from Mayor Ray Nagin’s infamous “chocolate New Orleans” comment.
- Zea’s in Metairie also has a “Beer is back” banner but the brewery is gone. Heiner Brau in Covington, on the north side of the lake, acquired the equipment and is brewing beers to be sold in all the Zea restaurants, for Big Easy Brewing (which has not reopened) and also its own line of beers. Heiner Brau’s flagship Kolsch is even available at the venerable Chimes Restaurant in Baton Rouge.
- There are no signs of impending commerce at the Brewhouse Grill on Carrollton (which used to be Acadian Brewing). The Mid City area was hit as hard as any (Dixie sits on Tulane Avengue between Mid City and the French Quarter).
A few blocks away from the Brewhouse, Mid City Lanes (Rock ‘n Bowl to its friends, and visited by many brewers during the 2003 Craft Brewers Conference in NOLA) has reopened – with bowling and live music most nights – only because it’s located on the second story. All of the stores on the first level of the shopping center remain shuttered.
- Most of the beer spots tourists know are back in business, including Lager’s in Metarie, the Bulldog and Cooter Brown’s in the Uptown area, d.b.a. on Frenchman, and the various Irish pubs in the Quarter offering a range of drafts from Sierra Nevada to Hoegaarden. A notable exception is O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel Pub around the corner from Crescent City Brewhouse. The pub – always a great spot for Celtic music and home to a fine courtyard – didn’t reopen after the hurricane.