Monday, April 19, 2010

Look Away! Look Away! Look Away! Dixie Land.



August 2005. Hurricane Katrina. I don't need to go into details. Whether you lived in New Orleans or not you know what happened. Thanks to our wonderful US government and local government the levees were never taken care of properly and approximately 80% of the city ended up underwater. A lot of homes and businesses were lost. Forever.

One of those businesses was New Orleans very own Dixie Brewing Company. Rumor has it that Dixie had stopped production about 5 months before Katrina but it was the storm that dealt the final blow. Now the Dixie Brewing building just sits there on Tulane Ave as a reminder of what used to be.

But for Dixie what used to be was never all that great. Ever since the supposed 1975 chemical spill which tainted the beers flavor sales have not been stellar. I say "supposed" chemical spill because I've heard rumors saying it was tainted water supply not chemical floor cleaner which is the standard line given. Either way sales have not been pretty.

When the Bruno family took it over in 1986 they inherited a brand with dismal sales and also a $14 million debt. According to sources Dixie was producing 50,000 barrels a year right before Katrina hit. I'm a little skeptical. That's a lot of beer. Let's put that in perspective using two local breweries. NOLA Brewing Company is a new brewery and produces maybe somewhere around 3000 barrels per year. In 2009, Abita Brewing produced approximately 90,000 barrels of beer. Abita is the 15th largest craft brewery in the country. You can get Abita in almost every state in the US. I don't recall Dixie being that popular outside the state of Louisiana. Are you seriously telling me that Dixie produced 50,000 barrels? If they were selling that much beer then they wouldn't have laid off their employees months before the storm. Yup, you heard me right. They laid off employees before the storm. Dixie was suffering so I'm sorry but I just don't believe that number. In fact, I think Dixie sells better now after Katrina then it did before Katrina. People love the nostalgia.

Anyways, the point of this post isn't to harp on Dixie but to give ideas to revitalize the brand. Like it or hate it, Dixie is a New Orleans icon and needs to be back home in the Crescent City. Instead it's being produced under contract by the Minhas Brewery in Monroe, Wisconsin and distributed by Distinguished Brands International which is an importer out of Littleton, Colorado. WAKE UP BRUNO FAMILY!!! You are missing out on a golden opportunity and The Beer Buddha is going to help. The following is my list of what the Bruno family should be doing to revitalize the Dixie brand:

1) Get a Facebook page. Everyone and their grandmother has a Facebook page. I see that the owners Joe and Kendra have their own so how hard could it be.

2) Get your own Dixie website. No seriously, their is no Dixie website. HELLO??

3) On that website you are going to construct you will sell t-shirts and other Dixie merchandise. Everyone wants a Dixie t-shirt. I just bought a cool Dixie beer bottle opener shaped like an axe off of eBay. I should be able to buy these off your soon to be constructed website. And when you sell t-shirts please make sure to have Buddha size(3xl). You could also sell cool old school metal Dixie coolers, Dixie crawfish trays, etc, etc.

4) Dixie pubcrawls or other Dixie events. I have NEVER seen a Dixie event. EVER. Perhaps promoting your brand would be a good thing. You could hire me. I'll do it real cheap and promise a decent turnout.

5) Hire a sales representative for the area. You may have one but I'll tell you now they aren't doing a good job. Right now in Louisiana EVERYONE wants to support local but don't rely soley on that fact. You need someone in the field promoting your brand because the distributor isn't doing it. Come to think of it I'm not 100% sure I know who your distributor is and I can tell you with almost 95% accuracy who distributes what. I wanna say it's Crescent Crown but not sure.

6) Maybe you can get the Dixie Brewery building listed as a protected landmark or something. I think they give out money for that. Maybe then you could fix up the building.

7) AND if I'm not mistaken you have been around long enough that you are grandfathered in and have the ability to sell straight from your brewery. HELLO?? That's a lot of money you could make. I'd be throwing some serious parties in that space once a week. And charging.

8) Allow your brewmaster to brew crazy, off the wall beers. Selling seasonal beers and special release beers is where it's at. Give your new brewmaster freedom to brew.

9) You need to realize that old beers are hip right now. Brands like PBR, Schlitz, Old Style, etc. are very popular right now. They, especially PBR, have a incredible marketing campaign right now. Hop on your board and ride this wave man! You're missing out!

and finally...

10) You need to realize that Dixie has been a New Orleans staple since 1909. You just had your 100th anniversary and did....nothing. You missed out on a huge opportunity. How could you miss this? Quit the poor me attitude. Yes, Katrina hit and your building was underwater and you had stuff looted. Who cares? Get over it. You needed new equipment anyways. You are Dixie Brewing. You've been alive and kicking for 100 years. The brewery is NOT a burden and if you view it as such I'm sorry. Jax Brewery. Gone. Falstaff Brewery. Gone. Regal Brewery. Gone. Dixie Brewery. Still alive. You may be that old dude in the nursing home who gums his food and scares himself when he farts but your still alive. Embrace life. Bring Dixie home. Oh and get insurance next time for crying out loud.

Cheers!

The Beer Buddha

5 comments:

Eric Ducote said...

Spot on write-up... it would be nice if the oldest brewery left in the state would be something we could be proud of. I hope you don't mind if I link to this on my blog as well!

The Beer Buddha said...

Link away Eric, link away!!

Cheers!

BB

Riki said...

Buddha,
As always I think you are on to something here. Over the years I have done a little bit of research into the brewing history of NOLA. I must agree with you, it would be a wonderful thing if we could get the old brewery up and running again. I say we because it is going to take not just the Bruno family but also the local beer community to due such a thing.

The Beer Buddha said...

UPDATE: I've heard news that the 50,000 barrel comment was a misquote. It is supposed to be 50,000 cases. This makes more sense.

Cheers!

BB

David cox said...

I live in the Baton Rouge area and collect N.O. beer brewery memorabilia.... I specifically specialize in "dimple goblets" and "barrel glasses/juice glasses".... I have both from Jax, Regal, and Falstaff.....Since Dixie is still in business....can we get some since neither have been available to the public before now?

Thanks.

David
dcox@coxservers.com