New Orleans’ oldest and most iconic brewery will soon be sporting a new look and nom de plume, along with an increased sense of social awareness. As of today, 114-year-old Dixie Beer has officially rebranded as Faubourg Brewing Co., responding to objections to the lasting association of “Dixie” with the Confederacy during the Civil War. The change was first announced last summer by owner Gayle Benson, who said it was “necessary to reflect” on the brewery title, due to “critical conversations about racism and systemic social issues” in the U.S. last year.
The brewery’s official name change landing page describes the choice in this way: “We are in a city that celebrates diversity and inclusion. As a result, we cannot continue using a word that is offensive to some of our customers and contrary to our core values. Our product is meant to bring people together, and unify our community and if we are offending anyone by using this specific word, we are not doing what we set out to do for our community.”
“Faubourg,” meanwhile, is an old French term for “neighborhood,” originally used to describe the suburbs of Paris and eventually applied to the many colorful neighborhoods of New Orleans. The brewery describes the choice as a tribute to those diverse neighborhoods.
It won’t just be the name changing, though—the company is getting something of a makeover in the process, reinvesting in its still new brewery and tweaking the recipe for their flagship Dixie Lager, now Faubourg Lager. In particular, adjuncts in the Dixie Lager recipe are being removed to bring the flavor profile closer to its original 1907 version. Other well-known Dixie recipes, such as Blackened Voodoo Lager, will apparently remain as they are. The brewery says the following:
Our new flagship lager is inspired by the original Dixie recipe to provide a better quality lager through a modernized brewing process to remove adjuncts such as rice while retaining the very best elements of a true German Wurtzburger-style lager (i.e. crisp noble German hops and soft creamy head.) The addition of adjuncts, specifically rice, were added to many lagers (Budweiser, etc.) during World War 2 and remain part of their recipes. Faubourg Lager’s recipe will be much closer to the original Dixie Lager produced in 1907 when Valentine Mertz opened the brewery and was New Orleans most popular beer.
Dixie Beer had been a mainstay in New Orleans for almost 100 years when the brewery was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The brewing site failed to reopen afterward, with the brand being kept alive via contract brewing on the other side of the country, in Wisconsin. It wasn’t until 2017 that New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson bought a majority stake in the Dixie brand, ultimately returning the site of its production to a new brewery in New Orleans. The brand is currently managed by Benson’s wife Gayle, after his death in 2018.
We wish the best of luck to Faubourg Brewing Company as it embarks on this new chapter after such a lengthy history.