Wan­der Brew­ing

At Wan­der Brew­ing, the big­gest fo­cus isn’t mak­ing money or grow­ing as large as pos­si­ble—it’s blaz­ing a trail through beer and beer styles that in­ter­est and in­spire them, from Bel­gian styles to rauch­biers to fruited ket­tle sours to bar­rel-aged saisons to c

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents - By Emily Hutto

CHAD KUEHL HAS BEER

in his blood. He grew up in Iowa, where his grand­fa­ther, a Ger­man im­mi­grant, owned Kuehl’s Tav­ern. “When I was young, my brother and I used to run around behind the bar in the tav­ern,” Kuehl re­mem­bers. “We were very com­fort­able be­ing around crowds of peo­ple in that set­ting, be­ing around beer. The whole pub, beer, tav­ern thing was in­grained in me from a very young age.”

Kuehl met his wife and business part­ner, Colleen, at the Univer­sity of Iowa. En­gi­neer­ing and non­profit jobs would re­lo­cate them on the West Coast where they es­tab­lished semi-per­ma­nent res­i­dence at their “third place” at Rogue Ale House and served An­chor Steam at their wed­ding.

They dreamed of mak­ing their own ren­di­tion of the Cal­i­for­nia Com­mon style when they even­tu­ally opened their own brew­ery, but they had to wan­der around the globe a bit more be­fore that would be­come a real­ity.

“We saved up for a cou­ple of years and then took off with our back­packs,” Chad says. “We trav­eled through Europe, the Mid­dle East, Africa, In­dia, and South Amer­ica. We spent thir­teen months stay­ing in hos­tels, sleep­ing in train sta­tions, and writ­ing the business plan for the brew­ery, which at the time was called Kuehl Brew­ing be­cause we hadn’t landed on Wan­der yet.”

The name Wan­der was a nat­u­ral fit for the back­pack­ing cou­ple, and it nod­ded more broadly to the cu­riosi­ties the Kuehls in­tended to ex­plore with their beers. “The name Wan­der sug­gests that we don’t put lim­i­ta­tions on beer styles,” Chad says. “You’re not go­ing to walk into Wan­der and see just a blonde ale, a pale, a stout, an am­ber. You are go­ing to see Bel­gian styles; you’re go­ing to see a rauch­bier, or a fruited ket­tle sour, or a bar­rel-aged sai­son. And, of course, you’ll see some IPAS and a DIPA.”

While Chad and crew do reg­u­larly brew some sta­ples such as the Wan­derale Bel­gian blonde, brewed with Bel­gian abbey yeast, and the Shoe Toss Rye IPA that’s dry-hopped with whole cone Ah­tanum hops, the 14-tap beer list in Wan­der’s tast­ing room is ever-evolv­ing. “We are con­stantly push­ing our­selves to try new styles,” Chad says. “Whether it be some­thing sim­plis­tic and tra­di­tional, such as smoked beer, or more ex­otic and tech­ni­cal, such as the kriek we just re­leased.”

The Addo Kriek fer­mented in one of Wan­der’s oak foed­ers, in­oc­u­lated with a mix of yeast and bac­te­ria and aged on Mont­mor­mency cher­ries. Addo Kriek is one of many beers that have come out of the Wan­der Bar­rel Pro­ject and one of the many sours that Wan­der brews—from ket­tle sours such as the Rasp­berry Mil­lie, to bar­rel-aged, mixed-fer­men­ta­tion beers such as Addo, to now spon­ta­neously fer­mented cool­ship projects.

Wan­der was one of the first, if not the first, brew­ery in Washington State to use a pro­duc­tion-sized cool­ship. They were also one of the first brew­eries in the state to use large-scale foed­ers. Wan­der’s wood cel­lar holds 100 bar­rels of vary­ing ori­gins and for­mats, in­clud­ing two 620-gal­lon Amer­i­can oak foed­ers.

“We did some small-scale cool­ship yeast cap­tur­ing, and the yeasts and bac­te­ria we got were def­i­nitely funky and Brett-y, kind

“We’re tak­ing risks on beers that might not pay off fi­nan­cially but make us cre­atively happy. Our big­gest fo­cus isn’t mak­ing money or grow­ing as large as pos­si­ble. We’re as big as we want to be right now. For us, growth looks like grow­ing up with our com­mu­nity, strength­en­ing our re­la­tion­ships with em­ploy­ees, and con­stantly im­prov­ing our qual­ity.”

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