Henryk Orlik had planned to ship the first kegs and cases of beer from his new Heiner Brau brewery (226 Lockwood St., 888-910-BEER; www.heinerbrau.com) in Covington to local stores at the end of August. Katrina forced a redo of that timetable, but Heiner Brau is now back in business and began its first shipments in December. A native of Nuremburg, Germany, Orlik worked for several years as brew master for Abita Brewing Co. before deciding to strike out on his own. "I love Louisiana, I really do, and I am a trained German brewmaster, so I decided that to stay here I would make my own job here with my own brewery," says Orlik. His first beer is a German lager/ale hybrid called kolsch and he plans to make seasonal brews throughout the year. Orlik says he makes his beer according to the traditional German purity laws for brewing, which means they are unpasteurized. The beers are available at local stores through Glazer's Distributors. Heiner Brau is located in a 100-year-old former hardware store in downtown Covington and is open for tours. Orlik also plans to open a beer museum in his facility and is accepting donations of brewing-related memorabilia and artifacts.
Despite the hurricanes, the McIlhenny Co. (www.tabasco.com) is moving ahead with plans to open a Warehouse District museum for its world-famous product, Tabasco sauce. The museum and company store will open in the St. Charles Avenue building that once housed the Hummingbird Hotel & Grill. Company president Paul McIlhenny says the museum could be open within a year. The company's production facility on Avery Island in Iberia Parish was untouched by Hurricane Katrina. Located on a salt dome at the highest elevation in the region, its sturdy brick buildings also weathered Hurricane Rita well. But dozens of the company's employees were flooded out of their homes in the nearby communities and much of the locally grown hot pepper seed crop was destroyed. Operations were barely disrupted, however, because the vast majority of the peppers that go into Tabasco sauce are grown on farms in Central and South America.
The storm also delayed the opening of the latest franchise location of the growing Melting Pot (1820 St. Charles Ave., 525-3225; www.meltinpot.com) fondue restaurant chain. The restaurant, scheduled to open Sept. 7, instead opened three months later to the day, Dec. 7, in a former Lower Garden District office building. The local franchise owner is Christopher Womack , a Louisiana native and Tulane graduate who has owned the Melting Pot restaurant in Baton Rouge since 1999. Melting Pot restaurants serve a variety of fondue styles, including cheese, chocolate, oil and broth, used to prepare meals at the table. The company was started in Maitland, Fla., in 1975. After growing slowly through the 1980s, franchise expansion took off in the late 1990s, bringing the Tampa-based company more than 90 locations now. The New Orleans Melting Pot opens for dinner daily at 5 p.m. and also serves its cheese and chocolate fondues at the bar.