Author photo. The iconic brewery tower, waiting for Faubourg branding.
Dixie enjoyed strong sales from the end of Prohibition into the 1950s, but times were not as rosy for other New Orleans Breweries. Five closed during Prohibition and in the following decades, victims of rising costs and relentless marketing by national breweries.
Dixie was not immune to those forces, but seemed poised for a rebound until, in 1975, fumes from a new brewery floor tainted a batch of beer. The affected beer made it into the market and sales plummeted. The brewery gave away six packs to lure customers back. In the years that followed, Dixie nearly joined Falstaff and Jax in the pages of local brewing history, but Kendra and Joseph Bruno purchased the faltering brewery in 1985, saving it again.
The Brunos reorganized under bankruptcy protection and introduced new beers, like Blackened Voodoo Lager, to appeal to the nascent craft beer market. Blackened Voodoo gained national attention and increased sales when it was banned in Texas over fears that it promoted the occult. Dixie held on, but its biggest challenge lay ahead.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and filled Dixie with 10 feet of water. What was not destroyed by flooding was looted, and the Brunos would never rebuild. Dixie was contract brewed, keeping it in bars, on shelves and in the hearts of New Orleanians, but barely. In 2017, New Orleans Saints owners, Tom and Gayle Benson, purchased Dixie from the Brunos, pledging to bring brewing back to New Orleans.
Tom Benson died in 2018, and Gayle made good on the promise, opening a new brewery in New Orleans East, complete with a replica of the iconic cupola. The Tulane Avenue original lives on as part of a new VA Medical Center.
In 2020, amid concerns over the association of the word ‘Dixie' with the Confederacy, and in an effort to foster inclusivity, the company made the decision to rebrand. The Faubourg Brewing Company was born, and it rolls out this month with a flagship lager based on the original 1907 recipe.
Saved time and again by New Orleanians who would not let it die, the beloved, 114-year-old brewery endures, and its beer is still served at crawfish boils and in bars all over town and beyond. With extensive outdoor space and live music every weekend, now is a great time to safely explore this newest chapter for an iconic New Orleans brewery.