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Blake Pontchartrain: Regal Brewery

American Brewing's star beer closed in 1962

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Hey Blake,

I know where Dixie, Falstaff and Jax beers were brewed, but where was the Regal brewery located? When did it go out of business?

Dear reader,

  In 1890, the American Brewing Company opened a four-story brewery in the 300 block of Bourbon Street, in the block bounded by Bienville, Royal and Conti streets. According to the book New Orleans Beer: A Hoppy History of Big Easy Brewing by Jeremy Labadie and Argyle Wolf-Knapp, the building had been home to the New Orleans Claret Company, a wine importing and bottling business. Regal Beer became American Brewing's most well-known product.

  In his book, Bourbon Street: A History, Richard Campanella says the brewery got some of the water for its brewing process from groundwater directly below Bourbon Street. In 1947, the city permitted American Brewing to dig an underground well below the Bourbon Street sidewalk. By that time, the brewery had become a French Quarter landmark, Campanella notes, with "a conveyor belt elevated above the street, on which hung a sign declaring to Bourbon pedestrians, 'Home of Regal since 1890: Genuine Lager Beer.'" The advertising for Regal, which legend has it got its name by reversing the letters in the word "lager," featured an image of a smiling Prince Regal holding a glass of beer. A memorable slogan was "Red beans and rice and Regal on ice."

  In 1962, the brewery closed, and in 1964 the Vieux Carre Commission approved plans for its demolition. A hotel was designed on the site by noted architectural firms Curtis and Davis and Koch and Wilson. The Royal Sonesta Hotel opened there in September 1969, with jazz legend "Sweet Emma" Barrett cutting the ribbon on the new hotel.

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