New Orleans was once the brewing capital of the South. From the time the first brewery opened in 1852, founded by Swiss immigrant Louis Fasnacht where the Cotton Mill apartments now stand until 1890, the number of breweries grew to 30, mostly fueled by German immigrants seeing a taste of home. Beers like Falstaff, Dixie, Jax and Regal - made popular by its jingle, “Red beans and rice and Regal on ice" - dominated the local market. Mirroring what happened in other cities around the country, including Philly and St. Louis, breweries closed as conglomerates dominated the market. The old Jax Brewery on Decatur Street was turned into a shopping and dining complex in the 1980s. The Dixie facility flooded during Katrina, and is now made in Wisconsin.
But just as craft cocktails are dominating the scene, craft small batch beer, made locally and regionally as well as across America, is back in the spotlight. Beer brewing has returned to south Louisiana through microbrewers like Abita, NOLA Brewing and Heiner Brau. And there are plenty of pubs that showcase the best of the best, often along with elevated pub grub and a strong helping of neighborhood cheer. Try one, or all of these pubs for great brews and good times.
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