Brewery Profile: Wayward Owl Brewing

Justin Boswell looks to restore New Orleans as the brewing capital of the south.

By Nora D. McGunnigle

When Justin Boswell returned home to Louisiana to open a brewery, he brought with him a passion for local brewing and four years of professional experience at Black Raven Brewing Company in Seattle. His goal, besides brewing great beer, was to build a brewery that created opportunities for work and play in the community and return New Orleans to the brewing capital of the South. With the help of Kinnek, he is poised to do just that. 

Boswell chose a long-abandoned neighborhood theater as the location of Wayward Owl Brewing Company and has worked for more than a year to restore it. He’s in the final phases now - brewhouse, tanks, and glycol chiller are in place and the restored signage of the former Gem Theater hangs outside. He can’t wait to throw open those old theater doors and welcome everyone to his dream.

“I’m chomping at the bit - I can’t wait. I’ve been doing homebrew the last 6 or 7 months, fine-tuning the recipes we’ve been working on for years,” Boswell says. His initial beers will be a much-tested IPA, a gose, and a kristalweizen, which is a traditional filtered German, wheat beer, that Boswell calls a “gateway beer

He notes, “In the early days, we touted the definition of “wayward” as being unpredictable, something you can’t pin down, something a little… perverse. Most people think of it as meaning wandering or lost. But we see it as willing to be unpredictable.”

“And I don’t believe in flagship beers,” he adds. It’s a piece of advice my mentor gave to me - don’t make flagship beers, build a flagship brewery. Forget about national trends, pay attention to your neighborhood.”­

When building his brewery, Boswell turned to Kinnek to explore options on keg collars and keg stickers. What he valued most from the experience was the ability to see what his fellow brewers thought of a particular supplier company. “It was really easy to see, after contacting multiple companies, why they were rated like they were rated. And why they may have been easier to work with that others. It was clear that it was a good way to filter out the people who maybe don’t have the best customer service or the most quality product.”

He was most pleased to come across a “co-op keg collar” program offered by Blue Label Digital Media, which pools requests from small breweries into one order to get better volume pricing with a monthly order. “I wouldn’t have known about that if I had not contacted them through Kinnek. And it was an easy way to weed out the better deals on something,” he explains.

He also appreciated the speed of getting his requested information. Instead of an email exchange that could take several days to conclude, Boswell would just log into the Kinnek portal to see the pricing and vendors and could make quick, sound decisions.

“That made it a whole lot easier to communicate with these people, to get the job done a lot faster. Probably a little too fast,” he says with a laugh. Appropriate for a city dubbed “The Big Easy."

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