NEW ORLEANS — Dixie Beer will be renamed Faubourg Beer, after a six-month process to respond to suggestions its name was outdated and not inclusive, majority owner Gayle Benson announced Wednesday.
Dixie calls the new name a "tribute to the diverse neighborhoods of New Orleans.”
Faubourg is a French word that has been historically used to describe New Orleans neighborhoods, such as Faubourg Marigny, Faubourg St. John and Faubourg Treme.
Anticipating that the name may be foreign to regional or out-of-state customers, Dixie’s public relations team included a pronunciation (fo-burg) in its news release announcing the change.
The brewery said customers can expect to see Faubourg Beer on shelves and taps in early 2021. Until then, the company said its products will remain available under the Dixie brand. That includes beer and logo merchandise, which has become a collector’s item since the name change was announced.
Dixie Brewing Company, New Orleans’ oldest brewery, was founded by Valentine Merz in 1907. Benson, the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner who purchased Dixie with her late husband Tom in 2017, launched a process to rename the beer in June.
“When the team embarked upon this journey in June, we understood that our new name must encompass the spirit and diversity of all of New Orleans' unique neighborhoods,” Benson said in a statement. “The Faubourg Beer Company is a celebration of our city, our people, and our commitment to New Orleans.”
The decision to rebrand the iconic beer – which was met with support and also some criticism – came amid a national discussion about race and social justice issues which has led several companies to rebrand products associated with slavery or names perceived as racist stereotypes.
Dixie is a longstanding nickname for the South, typically associated with the states that seceded to form the Confederacy. The song “Dixie” became an anthem for Confederate states during the Civil War.
The origins of the word are in dispute, however. Some trace the word to the Mason-Dixon line that once divided North from South, while others suggest that it came from $10 bills printed in New Orleans in the 1800s that were branded with "Dix," French for "ten," and known as "dixies."
In recent weeks, Dixie’s management invited the public to help rename the beer, saying they received over 5,400 online submissions. The company also said it worked with customers, hospitality workers and local historians in its rebranding process.
“We took a deliberate approach to the name retirement and rebranding process,” said general manager Jim Birch in a statement. “Our products have always brought people together, and we believe, like so many others, that ‘Faubourg’ is a unifying name that celebrates every corner of New Orleans.”
After the Bensons purchased Dixie Beer from owners Joe and Kendra Bruno in 2017, they announced plans to build a new, 85,000-square-foot brewery in New Orleans East and brew Dixie in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The new facility opened this past January.
It includes a mini-museum that shares the history and memorabilia of iconic local brews, such as Jax, Regal and Falstaff. Dixie’s announcement Wednesday said there are plans to enhance the museum to further pay homage to the city’s brewing history and lost New Orleans brands, which will now include Dixie.
The Brunos, whose ownership of Dixie dates to 1985, remain part of the current ownership team. They kept Dixie alive against all odds, including bankruptcy and Hurricane Katrina, which prompted them to hire an out-of-state brewery to produce the beer. The original Dixie Brewery building on Tulane Avenue, a national historic landmark, is now part of the VA Medical Complex.
The new brewery, which produces Dixie, Dixie Light and several varieties of its Voodoo brand, as well as craft beers under different labels, also features a taproom, tavern kitchen and outdoor entertainment spaces. The owners have billed it as a project aimed at revitalizing a section of New Orleans East.
“When my husband and I acquired Dixie Beer in 2017, we recognized that we were investing in more than a brewery, we were investing in a strong and resilient community,” said Benson. “Our investments in New Orleans East will continue and bringing jobs and economic opportunity to our community will remain at the forefront.”