The brew pub Crescent City Brewhouse (527 Decatur St., 504-522-0571; www.crescentcitybrewhouse.com) has served craft beer in the French Quarter since certified German Brewmaster Wolfram "Wolf" Koehler opened it in 1991. Back then, "A lack of good beer in New Orleans seemed to be a perfect invitation for a German brewmaster looking for a place to put a brewery," Koehler says.
Koehler grew up in the Bavarian region of Germany and began working at a brewery at 16. He "hated every minute of it," he says. But the following year, he apprenticed at another brewery, and after two more years he became eligible to go to Berlin to study the science behind brewing and become a Brewmaster.
After a six-year stint in Belize and working in breweries throughout Europe, Koehler arrived in New Orleans in August 1989. He opened Crescent City Brewhouse in a historic French Quarter building in January 1991 after convincing the Vieux Carre Commission that his plan for a European-style brewhouse would have a low environmental impact on the area, he says. "I had no idea it was going to be this kind of monster," he says. "I thought it would be more like, I brew during the day, I sell beer at night, and in between I grill sausages."
Koehler's Pilsner is the brewpub's most popular beer and his personal favorite. The regular selection also includes a marzen style red/amber ale, a dark lager and a wheat beer. Crescent City also has a full bar, and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily. There's a live jazz band in the evening and Crescent City often showcases work by local artists.
Koehler's passion for beer and the craft of brewing is rooted in respect for tradition. "Beer is a very sacred and simple concoction of four ingredients," Koehler says. "What I'm doing is what people have been drinking for the last 500 years." — NORA MCGUNNIGLE