Ken Thoburn has a sudsy dream and soon it will be taking root in an old building at 1727 Fawcett.
Next door to the Tacoma Buddhist Temple, Thoburn and three friends – Derrick Moyer, Daniel Heath, and Jason Sabol – are starting Wingman Brewers – a production brewery they hope to turn into something like the Tacoma version of Gig Harbor’s 7Seas Brewing.
“It’s very small batch …. we’re starting really small,” said Thoburn when I talked to him by phone about the concept late last summer. The group applied for licensing last summer. They’re still waiting for approval from the Tobacco Tax Bureau; next stop after that is the Liquor Control Board. “We hope this process only takes a few months,” wrote Thoburn in an email to me today.
Once licensing is in place, the four hope to soon be producing for the public. Their business strictly is production. A restaurant or pub won’t be attached, but their hope is that local Tacoma restaurants will serve their beers. They’re already talking to local cafes, taverns and restaurants, but cannot make any business deals until their licensing is in place.
The four grew up in Tacoma and recently attended college at Pacific Lutheran University, University of Puget Sound and University of Washington Tacoma.
Why beer? “We love making it and we might as well do it for a living, even if it’s meager for awhile,” said Thoburn.
The brewery is aviation themed, a nod to Thoburn’s grandfather who fought in World War II. Said Thoburn, “My grandfather was in World War II in the Pacific. He was a painter. Being at war was difficult for him to paint, so he took part in nose art … where they would paint sides of planes. One … time I was with him, he showed me this photo album of all these pictures.” And with that, the idea to form a business with a thematic nod to his grandfather took root. The beers, logos and other parts of the business will be inspired by his grandfather’s work.
The style of beer is what they’re calling distinctly Northwest – and that speaks all the way to the ingredients. “We have one product that uses all products from the Northwest, it’s our Northwest Pale Ale. It uses hops from Yakima, we were able to get some grain from around here, through our supplier, but we don’t order a whole lot of it. We’re trying to get only grain that’s from around here. We’re cultivating some yeast that’s hopefully, depending on how we can do it, that’s Northwest kind of yeast. Right now it tastes really good and we like it. Our particular beers have a citrus and kind of a piney flavor with the hops.”
As for the other beers? Here are Thoburn’s descriptions of what they’ve got brewing:
DOUBLE IPA, Pocket Aces: “That started out as an homage to Plimy the Younger, the IPA from Russian River. We were just researching different styles of beer because we wanted to round out our product listing with more than we felt was an average selection. We needed something people could talk about and we could do for taverns for small release. We decided to try three different creations; the first we tried was the double IPA.”
ENGLISH STYLE PORTER, P51: “Porter has been popular with our friends. We’ve enjoyed developing that one. It’s a fairly complex porter, it’s a fairly high alcohol content, it’s not super viscous, like some darker beers are, there’s a definite nutty and kind of chocolate that you get from it. It’s a deep, rich, low viscosity porter. The kind you could have two of instead of the kind you feel you’ve had an entire meal after one.”
The brewery also plans to produce an IPA called Ace. And a pale ale called Pin-Up Pale Ale.
Where: 1727 Fawcett Ave. (not open to the public)
Look for the beer: In local taverns and restaurants sometime in the next few months. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.
Find Wingman on Facebook
A few beer events for your brew calendar:
The seventh annual Strange Brewfest will be Jan. 28-30 in Port Townsend. The festival features 30 breweries crafting beer from odd stuff like cucumbers, cayenne, coconut, coriander and who knows what else. Details are here.
The second annual Belgianfest will be Jan. 22 at The Workshop at Warren G. Magnuson Park. Details are here.