This is a series on the Tap Trail where we introduce you to all the fantastic head brewers behind all the delicious beer in our town. Catch up with past articles on Aslan, Kulshan, Boundary Bay, and Chuckanut.
This week, we highlight Chad Kuehl of Wander Brewing.
Although Wander Brewing has only been open about a year and half, it has become a household name in Bellingham. Wander expertly blends traditional recipes with unique experimentation to bring something completely different to the craft beer scene. While their “open brewery” concept gives off a relaxed, easy going vibe, Wander’s beer kicks flavor into high drive. From their Sour Millie Series to their Barrel Project, Wander brews award-winning beer that is anything but typical.
How did you first get into brewing?
A couple friends of mine from Chicago came out for a visit when I was living in San Francisco and we went camping in the Yosemite back country for a few days. Upon returning to San Francisco we had an open afternoon before they left and they introduced me to my first homebrewing experience. That was the summer of 2007. From there my interest grew and I attended the American Brewers Guild for 6 months in 2011 and then worked part time at Hilliard’s beer for two years prior to making the move to Bellingham in 2013 to open Wander.
How do you think Wander fits into the Bellingham Beer Community?
We are small and family run. We have a tight knit team of 9 people that are dedicated to our craft and our customers. As an owner/brewer I have ultimate control over what we put in our beers which helps us to keep our focus on quality, creativity, and experimentation, not on exponential growth and the bottom line.
If you could choose only one Wander brew to drink for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would have to go with the Uncommon Common. I fell in love with the style and the history of Anchor Brewing when we lived in San Francisco and Colleen and I served Anchor Steam at our wedding. To me, it is a perfect balance between a crisp clean lager and a malty hoppy ale.
When you aren’t drinking at Wander, where could we find you grabbing a pint?
Most likely on my back porch with my wife and dog. If not there then likely at one of the other fantastic local breweries.
Give each Bellingham brewery a class superlative.
How about a Casa Que Pasa burrito?
Aslan –Chicken Supreme
Boundary Bay – The world famous Potato Burrito
Chuckanut – Poseidon Burrito
Kulshan – Rancho Deluxe
Wander – Vegan Supercrunch – because that’s my favorite
If you could grab a drink with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
My Grandfathers. One was a farmer and the other ran the tavern the next town over from where I grew up in Iowa. Both were German and both enjoyed a cold beer.
Tell us your favorite memory since brewing at Wander.
It has to be winning the Gold medal this year at the GABF for the Wild Warehouse. It was just Colleen and I on stage in front of 2,000 people and I was speechless and shaking a bit. I could barely talk when Charlie Papazian asked me ‘So where is Bellingham?’
What do you love about Bellingham?
I like outdoor options in life and there is so much that is accessible from Bellingham. I also really enjoy our downtown area. There are a lot of midsized towns with downtown areas that are empty but there are so many local businesses and people working to ensure that Bellingham continues to grow.
And finally: Tell us a secret.
The Wander Barrel Project will be expanding further by the end of the year…