For our 7th week of "7 QUESTION SUNDAY" we shine the spotlight on Seattle Entrepreneur and Brew Master Ken Thoburn.
4EVRGRN: Hey Ken, tell us a little about yourself.
KT: Back in 2009 some friends and I saw the opportunity to start a micro brewery in Tacoma. We eventually opened Wingman Brewers in April of 2011 with a big release event at The Red Hot on 6th Ave. We started out very small and have grown now to only be somewhat small, but it's been a fun ride so far and I'm very excited to celebrate 8 years of business on Saturday April the 20th this year. Before brewing I worked for Tacoma Public Schools with ELL (English language learner) students and before that I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I got a degree in Chinese Studies. I'm a graduate of the second class out of Tacoma School of the Arts. Going to highschool in downtown Tacoma really made me fall in love with the city The culture we have growing in Tacoma is fantastic and I'm very excited to hopefully spend the rest of my years here.
Here's how Ken answered our 7 Questions...
- What makes the PNW unique? The rivers, lakes, mountains, Pacific Ocean, vast agricultural lands on one side of the state and huge technology business on the other all with the economic job creating giant of Beoing in the middle. I think the PNW has the money, jobs and tax base to create one of the most comfortable, laid back and forward thinking places on the planet. We're not perfect out here but for sure the PNW is unique.
- Where’s your favorite escape in the PNW? I like camping with friends in the middle of nowhere. If you're not a camper zip out to Anacortes and take a ferry to one of the San Juan Islands. Whether I'm on the Oregon coast or up in Idaho near the Canadian border the stars, the people, the food and beverages...ooh so many options. It's not hard and doesn't have to be expensive to find an escape here in the PNW.
- Best meal in the PNW? Meals with family are hard to beat. Whomever is cooking I'm not the kind of guy to complain when there's food on my plate and beer in my hand. As for eating out...there are so many options. There's a ton of amazing spots between Portland and Seattle with award winning chefs where you can spent a whole weeks pay in a few hours....and it's probably worth it. There's also some great small spots to check out. I would just encourage people to eat local, skip the chains, visit the small businesses and bring friends...if you don't have friends sit at a bar, start a conversation with a stranger and make a friend. Those are the good meals.
- What’s the one thing anyone who visits must see or do? There's a giant volcano you can see from most places in Western WA. Mt. Rainier is pretty cool and unique to our area. If you don't want to see a volcano then the one thing visitors should do is visit my taproom and enjoy some local beer.
- What do you miss most when you’re outside the PNW? The water and the mountains. Driving through the Midwest sometimes looks so flat and peaceful like looking out across the ocean. The East Coast is a bustling mess of people, food and concrete in a lot of places. California is like the PNW but with more people, societal pressures and a lot of brown rocky places. It might rain here a bit, but whenever I'm away I just want to see the Puget Sound and I always feel lost when I look up and can't see mountains. Other places are good, but the PNW is better.
- Favorite PNW activity? Tough question. Hiking is great. Visiting some of the 400+ breweries in WA and nearly 300 breweries in OR is pretty good too. Just finding a quiet place outside in the Summer or hanging out inside with my dog on a rainy day isn't bad either.
- Best local product? Mine right... I think the best local product we have in the PNW isn't a commodity or artisan craft actually. I think it's the people and our mentality which in my opinion has lead to great local products (like mine). Between the wilderness, the tech, the agriculture, the aerospace, the ports and all the supporting industries we've got a good mix of perspectives. The PNW may not be the most ethnically or religiously diverse area of the country but in Tacoma we had an article in the paper a few years back about having some of the most interracial marriages of anywhere in the country. Tacoma was voted one of the most LGBTQ friendly places in the country as well. Stuff like that makes me think the best local product may be the young people growing up in our region who will encounter these facts as everyday life norms and look at it as odd that the generation before treated anybody differently because of who they are. My personal perspective is pretty limited being a white dude, but I think this kind of open mindedness as some might call it is really an exercise in freedom. The freedom to be who you are, hunt/fish the wilderness, love you who love, and share your opinions without fear is really the kind of foundation that allows for a special type of creativity and innovation that translates into makers making great local products. I don't think the PNW's best stuff could pop up and be successful just anywhere.
Thank you to Ken for participating in this weeks' "7 Question Sunday". We look forward to having a beer with him again at Wingman soon!