Falstaff Brewery

On our way to St. Joseph church on Tulane, Nola and I were passing the old Falstaff brewery building near Broad and Tulane. I remembered seeing a picture a while back that someone had taken of a statue sitting on top of the building. We went to check it out, and there it was.


You won’t notice it while driving down Tulane, nor can you see it from the interstate. I thought the statue was of Falstaff, the Shakespeare character the beer brand was named for. Nola found it was something else and sent me a link to a 2005 Gambit post.

The large gentleman hoisting a stein is King Gambrinus, a 12th century Flemish nobleman who, according to legend, brewed the world’s first barrel of beer. In reality, some form of beer is known to have existed thousand of years earlier. Nevertheless, King Gambrinus — invariably portrayed with foaming goblet held high in mid- toast — has long been established as a symbol of the universal and eternal regard for beer.

King Gambrinus is known as “the patron saint of beer” and for years has been used as the universal symbol of beer and brewing. Many brewers in the late 19th century used his image to promote their products, and life-size statues of the king adorned breweries everywhere.

The tower on top of the building is an interesting item. Lighted letters spell out Falstaff along the shaft; at top is a large lighted ball.


When I was in grammar school, we lived across the river in Algiers. My grandmother lived in Mid City, near the Fairgrounds. We would pass the brewery on the interstate when we went to visit, and I remember the activity of the lights on the tower. Sometimes the top ball would be different colors. The letters themselves would light up from the top to the bottom or bottom to top.

I never knew what it meant, but I remember an advertisement at my grandmothers’s house–on a book of matches or a calendar or flyer–at my grandparents that explained the lights indicated the weather. After that, my brother and I would try to figure out what the lights were trying to say every time we saw them after that. As the Gambit piece explains:

When the light was green, we could expect fair weather, but a red light meant cloudy skies. A flashing red light told of us rain coming. The Falstaff letters lit from the bottom up to signify rising temperatures and lit from top to bottom to indicate dropping temperatures.

10 Responses to Falstaff Brewery

  1. Nola on March 17, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I love the statue, I love the tower; I love this building’s rich history. Thanks for sharing! This is truly NOLA knowledge obscure!

  2. Stuart on March 17, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Wow. Things like this really make me miss NOLA.

  3. NOLA Notes » Blog Archive » Priorities on March 18, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    […] a more interesting uniquely New Orleans story, click here to read about King Gambrinus reigning atop Falstaff […]

  4. MammaLoves on March 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Love this post. I love facts like this.

    Wish companies still did things like that.

  5. Stephen on March 18, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Neat facts! Nola pointed this post out on Twitter. I haven’t been downtown enough in NOLA to see the king yet, but if I ever get back there, I’ll look for him!

  6. stacey on March 18, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I love that I learn something new every time I click on your site!!

  7. mybayouvieux on March 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Pete, your the unofficial Nola historia. Next time I am stumped, I am coming to you for answers!

  8. mw on June 8, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    What is the story on the bunnymen on the side of the building?

  9. kaila on May 22, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I live right next to the Fallstaff building, and I can’t seem to figure out a good conclusion of why there are 4 or 5 statues of men in dressed in a bunny suits. It freeks me out a little but, it looks like there so real which makes it so interesting. New Orleans has a lot of history.

  10. Pete on May 22, 2010 at 11:23 am

    The bunny guys are part of a public art project covered in another post Who’s Watching These Watchmen? Artist Alex Podesta created them (and is the model for the man in the bunny suit). This is Doug McCash’s run-down of the project at NOLA.com.

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