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The abandoned Dixie Brewing Company: One of the largest iconic landmarks in New Orleans

The Dixie Brewing Company dates back to 1907, when Valentine Merz, a former president of the Jackson Brewing Company, established the brewery in New Orleans, Louisiana. Its beer, which is now contract-brewed, was made at what was the city of New Orleans’ last remaining big volume brewery before to the city’s 2005 levee collapse.

Louis Lehle constructed this unique red brick brewery in German Romanesque style, complete with arched windows and a striking silver dome. During Prohibition, the company’s name was briefly changed to the Dixie Beverage Company, which managed to thrive by making other drinks such as sodas and ‘near-beers’.

When its owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1989, the firm was reformed in 1992 with a new range of specialty beers, including Jazz Amber Light (launched in 1993), Blackened Voodoo (a dark ale), and Crimson Voodoo (a red ale), when it became viable, expanding business once again.

Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005, destroying practically everything on the brewery’s first floors, including the contemporary bottling process, 10,000 cases of beer, and anything not constructed of stainless steel. The brewery complex was plundered once the region was de-watered, with much of the equipment removed, including copper, precious metals from the tanks and wiring, and practically everything else of worth at the site.

Despite early rumors that it will be rebuilt, the brewery remains closed as of December 2010, and the future of the facility is unknown. The brand is still in operation, brewed under contract by other brewers.

The structure is built on the site of the new Department of Veterans Affairs hospital being built in New Orleans’ Mid-City area. “Right now, what we’re doing is stabilizing the building that we’re going to save, which is that famous tower with the Dixie Brewery on top,” said Liz Failla, the VA’s project coordinator. The plan retains and fixes the ancient brewery’s six- and four-story parts. According to Failla, a new brick and glass building will rise below the old facade.

Dixie is now contract-brewed, however there are initiatives underway to get local government support for the Dixie Brewery’s reopening.

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