Dixie Brewing Company and Voodoo Lager
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By: Yelena Keselman
After my first trip to New Orleans this past July, there is no doubt in my mind that this area of the South is one of deep cultural roots and unique flare. Walking the streets, one cant help but become immersed in the profound sense of pride that each and every person in Louisiana emits, whether its in the dialogue on the streets, music booming from the bar windows, or finger licking food. There is an unbreakable spirit that is apparent in all residents from the briefcase businessmen to the charismatic street performers. As many other first timers, I was inspired by its lively beauty but also saddened by the permanent aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Although the strong community of New Orleans has made it apparent that that this tragedy did not make the city and therefore will not break it, it is still a haunting aspect of life here. One chilling reality of the impact is the story of Dixie Brewing Company.
Dixie Brewing Company is one of the oldest breweries in the U.S. and was founded in Nawlins (New Orleans) Louisiana in 1907. It ties into a pivotal point in American history, during the time of prohibition, when New Orleans maintained its position as the leader in beer production for the Southern States. Progressing through times of economic prosperity and hardship as 20th century rolled on, Dixie was able to hold strong until 1989 when lack of funds forced owners to file for bankruptcy. In 1992 under new ownership, the brewery underwent a transformation with the release of a series of new brews; including the spellbinding Voodoo Blackened Lager. A great time for this shift as the craft beer industry was slowly picking up steam.
As you may have guessed this story doesn’t end well, like many other establishments Dixie fell victim to the forces of Katrina in 2005. Sitting in an area of New Orleans called “Mid City” it’s traditional brick style architecture was no match as the levies broke and the floodwater poured through windows and foundation. As time went on and water cleared, the original building was slowly looted of most equipment to the point of no return. It currently sits in its original location on Tulane Avenue, abandoned, as an eerie reminder of the catastrophic events that took place.
In 2007 the owners of Dixie pushed forward with an ambitious revival. Unfortunately, unable to re-create the mass production of the past in New Orleans the brand is now brewed and bottled by Huber Brewery in Monroe, Wisconsin (of all places?). According to some articles I read this beer is only distributed in the Midwest and Southern areas but I was lucky to get my hands on the Voodoo Black Lager at good old Cost Plus World Market (who doesn’t love it)
First Impression: I love the intricacy of the metallic label; it offers a glimpse into the Louisiana swamp culture. Cypress trees adorn the sides with ghostly Mardi Gras masks dangling in the shadows. Voodoo itself is a spiritual practice, brought to New Orleans from Africa during the time of slavery. The label and dark essence of the brew definitely bring upon an otherworldly sensation.
Pour: This beer pours a mix of ruby red and brown. The color resembles that of Amaretto with a light headed nature. The powder-like foam slips right off of the glass. The strong aroma exposes me to a scent of cherry and caramel.
Taste: This buttery beer seems light then gives a malty kick as it makes it way down. Malt type liquor isn’t something I am too fond of but this one plunges with ease. A chilled voodoo would be a great accessory on a hot summer day in the South, especially with some charbroiled oysters (mmmmouth watering good)
Although I wouldn’t call this a gourmet beer, I give it a good grade because it advertises itself the way it truly tastes. A refreshing yet oily elixir meant to bring out a little New Orleans flavor inside any drinker.