Brewer: Dixie Brewing Company (currently brewed by Joseph Huber Brewing Company)
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana (currently Monroe, Wisconsin)
Many, many moons ago, my very first official business trip took me to the Big Easy, itself: New Orleans. It’s been a love-love relationship ever since. In fact, I do believe that New Orleans holds pride of place as my favorite visited U.S. city to date (San Francisco is close on its heels, but still so very far away). I’ve been there three times now. If I was given the chance right now to go again, this entry would be left unfinished at this very line.
I’ve already tried to capture my feelings about this beautiful city (and only come marginally close). I won’t try again. At least not for this review. Instead, I’d like to introduce you to the very first Nawlins beer I ever had: Dixie’s Blackened Voodoo Lager.
It was my first night in the Big Easy and I was itching to try it all—the cuisine, the drinks, the everything. First on the list? Satiate my evening need for food. If you know anything about New Orleans, you know you’re destined to have some scandalous culinary experiences while there. If you can make it out of the Big Easy without gaining at least five pounds, you’re made of stronger (and lighter) substance than me.
On this evening, I found a small little hole-in-the-wall joint, just beyond the parameters of the French Quarter’s nearly constant party hustle. It was literally like walking into someone’s home and resting a spell in their front parlor. A massive pass-through in the back allowed clear view of their kitchen, where it looked like the matriarchs of a family preparing a meal for guests. My dinner that night was a bowl of mind-blowingly wonderful crawfish etouffe washed down by a Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager.
Why tell you all of this in a beer review? Because of what I’m now about to say: This beer should not be drunk alone. It begs to be paired with something hearty, something heavy…something saucy, spicy, and sinfully satisfying.
Its opulent hue and fragrant nose immediately bring to mind what the first taste confirms: the floral sweetness of wild flower honey. Initially delicate and smooth, it’s the type of flavor that warns of oncoming cloying dangers if unaccompanied by a savory counterpoint. However, paired with a dish like etouffee or a robust jambalaya…even something less Nawlins like a well-spiced chili, and you are set for an awesome culinary experience. This liquid ambrosia provides the perfect light, soothing balance to any spicy, heavy dish.
In a sad yet hopeful footnote, the Dixie Brewing Company, which had been a New Orleans staple for nearly a century, has yet to re-open since Hurricane Katrina and post-hurricane looting left it decidedly unfit for business. Discussions are ongoing about how to reinstate this Grand Dame of Bayou Brewing, but in the interim, the Wisconsin-based James Huber Brewing Company has picked up the production of several of Dixie’s line, including Blackened Voodoo Lager. The bottles pay tribute to this inspiring collaboration with the following:
The century-old Dixie Brewing was almost destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but restoration is under way. With the help of our friends, we’re working hard to re-beer New Orleans and the rest of the country.
I truly hope that one day Dixie beers can return to their Crescent City home, but until then I am more than grateful to the company that has ensured the continuation of this lovely Louisiana staple.