In the Hall of the Ice King
Located in New Orleans, LA
Photo © 2010 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Dixie Brewery History
This iconic red brick brewery on Tulane Ave. in New Orleans was designed by architect Louis Lehle in German Romanesque style. Production of Dixie Beer began in 1907 under the leadership of Valentine Merz, who was once the president of the Jackson Brewing Co.
Dixie Beer thrived until Prohibition was enforced in the 1920s; the name of the company was briefly changed to the Dixie Beverage Company during this time. Once alcohol became legal to manufacture again, new competition in New Orleans made profits difficult to reach for many years, and eventually forced the owners to file for bankruptcy. The company was revived in 1989 with a line of specialty beers however, which included Dixie Jazz, Blackened Voodoo, and Crimson Voodoo, and Dixie became a viable, growing business once again.
Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans in 2005, wiping out almost everything on the first floors of the brewery, including the modern bottling line, 10,000 cases of beer, and anything that wasn't made of stainless steel. Scrappers also attacked the building, stealing the copper and other precious metals from the tanks and wiring, and destroying parts of the building in the process. The state expropriated the building in 2011 and had it transferred to the Veterans Administration as part of a massive LSU/VA hospital complex being constructed nearby. The VA has plans to transform the old building into an advanced bio-research facility called the Dixie Brewery Research Building, replacing parts of the crumbling brick facade with modern glass walls. Joe and Kendra Bruno, who owned the building, have been fighting to gain control back from the VA and re-open the brewery, and have managed to halt demolition just hours before it was about to begin. The fate of the property now lies in the results of pending court cases. Dixie Beer is still produced under contract by Minhas Craft Brewery in Wisconsin.