The old Gem movie house has been shuttered for so long that a generation of New Orleans people may have never even known it was there. It was just another hulk of a building along the busy cross-town route between Broadmoor and Mid-City.

Now though, the name up in lights on the 1950s-era marquee here is Wayward Owl Brewing, and the latest releases come from the beer vats within, not a Hollywood studio.

Wayward Owl debuted about a year ago, joining the ranks of craft breweries around town. In scale it holds down the middle ground – bigger than the nano, taproom-only breweries, smaller than the more established local beer brands.


Once known as the Gem movie theater, the Thalia Street property off South Broad Street is home to Wayward Owl Brewing.

For creative reuse in the brewing field, however, Wayward Owl is in a class by itself.

The renovation here brought back a vintage-looking Gem sign (the original was lost to time) and retained the classic cinema look on the outside. Inside, Wayward Owl runs a taproom room in the front lobby area, which works like an indoor beer garden with long benches and a shuffleboard table. Ranks of tanks brewing up IPA and wheat beer extended down to where the theater screen once stood.

Food trucks park outside most nights, and the taproom sells Wayward Owl beer by the glass on site and in sizes from cans up to kegs to go.

Founder and head brewer Justin Boswell keeps a rotating array of specialty and seasonal beers rotating between the flagship brews.

This week, the brewery will release the first cans of its Privateer Pale Ale, a Belgian-style ale produced through a partnership with the University of New Orleans (it joins a series of officially-licensed beers from other Louisiana universities and breweries).

Boswell said more of Wayward Owl’s specialty beers will soon be added to the canning line, with some destined for stores and others available only at the brewery.

Wayward Owl Brewing Co.

3940 Thalia St., 504-827-1646

Taproom Tue.-Fri., 3-9 p.m., Sat. and Sun. noon-9 p.m.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.