– by Casey McLain, South Sound Bureau Chief –
The first day I walked into Wingman Brewers was more than two years ago. Head Brewer Ken Thoburn and Wingman friend Jason were transferring fermented wort from their fermenter to an oak barrel followed by peanut butter, and I quickly became aware of two things: Wingman Brewers is doing more than making beer in the transactional sense, and Wingman Brewers is Tacoma, and Tacoma is Wingman Brewers.
Before I ever wrote for Washington Beer Blog I was curious, and I had asked Ken if he felt like he wanted to compete with other local breweries.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” said Jason.
He was quoting Ken, who was quoting John F. Kennedy. Ken and Jason laughed, this was clearly some sort of inside joke. He’d been asked this question in an actual interview before, and this was the primary focus of their quote from him.
In my time in Tacoma, however, I’ve never seen anyone embody this motto more than Ken Thoburn. And for Ken, most recently, the metaphorical boat courtesy of JFK have expanded their reach from local breweries to include local restaurants and merchants of many kinds.
On September 20 at their brewery, Wingman Brewers will be featuring beer from themselves, Narrows Brewing, and Tacoma Brewing, as well as Tacoma coffee roasters Bluebeard Coffee, Libertine Tacoma Salts, and a potential collaboration with Tacoma’s newest ice cream shop called Ice Cream Social. While the details on this collaboration are unavailable at this time, having frequented both locations recently, the question about this collaboration should not be “what?,” In fact, I don’t know what the question should be. The answer is yes, though. Definitely yes.
If you’ve never been to Tacoma, or at least not to Wingman Brewers, they’re right across the street from the parking garage next to Freighthouse Square, which means abundant parking. It’s also at the end of the Tacoma Link light rail line. And Tacoma has Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar now, so make sure to eat well, drink responsibly, and get home safely.