A few weeks ago Wingman Brewers’ Ken Thorburn was nice enough to participate in the first 5 Question Friday. He said that the first Wingman brew would be debuting soon and he wasn’t kidding. On the evening of April 21st, Wingman Brewers debuted their P-51 Porter at 6th Ave’s The Red Hot.
Prior to that night I had only been to the Red Hot a couple of times. I remembered that the Red Hot had a good beer selection and great hot dogs but I also remembered that it was really small. So when I arrived around 6:30pm I wasn’t surprised that there was a line outside the door.
While waiting in line I finally met Ken Thoburn and his cohorts in person. They all seemed like friendly, good people. Ken said I should stop by their place sometime and I told him I’d take him up on it. It was at this point that I suddenly had a fear. What if their beer sucks?
Now personally I’m not that big of a fan of Porters anyway. Many of them seem more like a meal than a beverage and that’s just not my thing. That’s not to say that I never drink them, but odds are if I’m out having a beer, I’m drinking an IPA or an ESB. That said, I was still looking forward to the P-51.
Once I got inside, I was surprised to find that despite the place being packed, it really wasn’t overcrowded. I could walk around without spilling other people’s drinks. I got to the bar and asked the cute bartender for a P-51. Moments later the dark beer arrived. I paid for the beer, stepped away from the bar and took a sip. The dark, rich flavor wasn’t overpowering, but it did linger. I took another sip and smiled. This was a good brew.
Less than two hours later, the P-51 keg was empty. Wingman’s debut was clearly an unqualified success. Best of all, when I walked out of the Red Hot, I didn’t have to lie to Ken when I saw him.
A week later, I stopped by Wingman Brewers to take a look at their operation. I’d never been to a brewery before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew they were small and just getting started, so I wasn’t expecting huge vats and that sort of thing.
I walked into their nondescript building on Fawcett Street and saw Ken. There are jobs people do because they have to pay the bills. Then there are jobs people do because it’s what they love to do and if they’re lucky enough to make money, then great. As Ken gave me a tour of the place, I could tell that this was clearly something he loved. The light you can see in someone in the process of attaining their dreams is something that’s real.
They have their wall of kegs, a wide assortment of malts, beer in various stages of completion, and their precious few hops (there’s a hops shortage). In their office, there are stacks of posters and other promotional material, and a few bomb-shaped tap handles. While the P-51 Porter is currently the only brew available from Wingman, their Ace IPA and Pin-Up Pale Ale are coming soon. Ken also told me of a few other brews they’re working on over the summer and into the fall. Wingman Brewers isn’t big, but they have big dreams, good ideas, and great beer. Like the title of this post says, it’s good to have a Wingman.
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