2 Beer Guys Blog

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Tragic Story sees light at the end of the Tunnel...

I read this story today for the first time and at first I wasn't going to post it on the blog. I then realized that this was an inspirational story that should be shared. Life goes on and good beer will survive.

(It's interesting that Mass is noted as one of the states it is distributed.)


Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!

Dixie comes North

Southern beer finds temporary home in Wisconsin
Posted: Nov. 29, 2007

The former Dixie Brewery building is seen in New Orleans last month.

Dixie beer has seen hard times since it was born in the land of cotton. But, thanks to a Wisconsin brewery, it won't be forgotten.

Even though its New Orleans brewery remains out of commission because of Hurricane Katrina, Dixie beer is again being sold in a growing number of states.

That revival is made possible by Minhas Craft Brewery, formerly Huber Brewing, in the southern Wisconsin community of Monroe, which has been hired by Dixie to brew and package its beer.

Dixie Brewing Co. owners Joe and Kendra Bruno picked the Monroe brewery in part because its central location within the United States makes it a good place to ship Dixie beer throughout the country.

The Brunos also said they were impressed with both the Minhas facility and the spirit of the brewery's employees.

"The heartbeat of Huber was the heartbeat we were looking for," said Joe Bruno, referring to the historic name of the brewery, whose Wisconsin roots reach back over 160 years.

The brewery was sold in 2006 to Ravinder and Manjit Minhas, two young Canadian siblings of Indian descent.

The Minhases operate Calgary, Alberta-based Mountain Crest Brewing Corp., which brews its beer in Monroe before exporting most of it to Canada.

Dixie itself has a long history, and in October celebrated its 100th anniversary. The Brunos plan to reopen the New Orleans brewery within two years.

They also plan to build a rooftop beer garden in hopes of drawing some of the millions of visitors attracted to the Big Easy each year.

The iron gates are still closed at the former Dixie Brewing Co. in New Orleans, more than two years after Hurricane Katrina flooded the brewery and looters devastated it. But Dixie beer is again being brewed thanks to Wisconsin's Minhas Craft Brewery, formerly Huber Brewing.

Brewing begins

Minhas Craft Brewery earlier this year began brewing and packaging three Dixie Brewing brands: the flagship Dixie Lager, Jazz Amber Light and Blackened Voodoo Lager. Dixie's brewmaster, Kevin Stuart, has flown to Monroe to oversee the production according to the recipes for the beers.

The latest batch of Dixie was packaged on Nov. 12, said Gary Olson, Minhas Craft Brewery president. The next batch is scheduled for January, he said.

The Dixie brands are now available in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Colorado, and Massachusetts, with Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York being added this month, according to Distinguished Brands International, a Littleton, Colo., firm that is marketing the beers.

A third wave of shipments will be made to the remaining 34 continental states in January and February, according to a Distinguished Brands statement.

Bruno said he's taking things slowly, in part because he doesn't want to expand faster than Dixie can fill orders from its distributors.

Also, the flood wiped out all of Dixie's business records, which has affected the company's recovery, Kendra Bruno said.

In the New Orleans area, where Dixie is a longtime local favorite, drinkers have been snapping up six-packs since its return, said Peter Zuppardo, who operates Zuppardo's Economical Super Market, in Metairie, La.

"They have a very loyal following down here," Zuppardo said.

Dixie's return is a story of survival.

The flooding that occurred after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 left much of the brewery under 7 to 9 feet of water, Bruno said.

After the floodwater receded, the looters struck. They ripped out the brew kettles and other copper fixtures to sell for scrap, he said.

"They took pieces of history," Kendra Bruno said.

Since then, the Brunos have been cleaning up.

Dixie Brewing didn't have flood insurance, so the Brunos are planning to use disaster relief funds, a Small Business Administration loan, and other financing sources to rebuild the brewery and create the beer garden.

Meanwhile, they've been gradually increasing production in Monroe.

At Minhas Craft Brewery, Olson said, it feels good to be playing a role in Dixie's revival.

Olson is not a fan of light beer, but said he enjoys Jazz Amber Light. Blackened Voodoo Lager reminds Olson of Berghoff Dark, which is brewed in Monroe.

Joe Bruno appreciates the work done in Monroe. But he's also eager to bring brewing back to Dixie's New Orleans home.

"There's nothing like having your own brewery," he said.

A gaping hole now resides where a large copper tank once stood at the former Dixie Brewery before looters made off with it.

Link to article.


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