I grew up in rural Wisconsin; a place of determination, self-reliance and barnyard engineering. This brewery is a tribute to that philosophy, starting with the brewing system itself.
For more than 30 years, Boulder Creek Brewery was a fixture in Boulder Creek, California and in neighboring Santa Cruz. In the heart of a tiny mountain town, a community grew and thrived over more than 30 years. With handcrafted beers and quality food, the brewery was a central attraction in the area. Sadly, this chapter came to an abrupt close with a fire. The owner decided to move on to different adventures, but the ashes of that fire allowed us repair their system and use it as the centerpiece of our brewery. With lots of elbow grease and polish, Wingwalker is ready to brew.
There is another thing that barnyard engineering will teach you: the value of failure. Nothing will ever go right the first time, probably not the second time either. What matters is that you keep trying. We have had some spectacular failures on the path to creating our flagship beers.
The most colorful was probably our prickly pear attempt. Living in Southern California means that edible plants surround us. We thought we should see what we could brew with some local prickly pears. For Northerners who are not familiar with the fruit, prickly pears get their name because of their coating of tiny barbed hairs. These are not the large, easy to see and avoid cactus spines you see in cartoons. Prickly pear barbs are nearly invisible, and they stick in skin, gloves, paper, cloth, leather, and driveways. In my foolishness, I thought a pair of heavy-duty work gloves would protect me. They did… for almost 10 minutes before the spines worked their way through the gloves and into my hands. Scratch one pair of gloves.
Well, we finished picking about 7 gallons of fruit, got it juiced, filtered out the remaining spines and then set to brewing using a light lager as a base. The resulting concoction was profoundly pink, had a mild alcohol level, and tasted almost exactly like cardboard. The plants in our neighborhood were drought-stressed and the fruit had very low sugar content. It made for a beautiful glass that was not worth drinking.