Andy Dunn was at the Wakefield Crowbar in 2015 when he noticed the Sale by Owner sign in front of the building across the street. Milton Tom, an 85 year old fabricator, was ready to retire after 30 plus years of working at the property.
Dunn, who had previously worked on the business side of the energy industry at Deloitte, said he had always been fascinated with the work engineers and technicians performed in the field working on the refining process.
He realized that brewing beer and refining petroleum are similar processes.
“You gather inputs, heat them and cool them to change their chemical properties and produce a set of outputs that people want,” he said.
Plus, Dunn loved beer and had been doing a fair amount of home brewing in his free time.
“I can’t own my own refinery,” said Dunn, “but I can have my own craft brewery.”
Dunn bought the building at 956 Judiway St. and put his plan into motion with Ramon Duran, a friend from his University of Colorado days, who has a farm in Florida.
“It’s a new trend, growing hops further south,” Dunn said.
After a year of planning and another year in the permit process, brewery construction began in early 2018.
Walking Stick will begin brewing this month and hopes to be serving its beers in October.
Dunn said that for a while they toyed with the idea of adding a kitchen in the tap room but for now will focus on the beers, although they will most likely invite some food trucks to park nearby.
“We might invest in a food truck of our own at some point,” said Dunn.
Although Dunn wanted to maintain as much of the original structure as possible, one building was torn down to make way for the state of the art brewing equipment. Walking Stick is a 10 barrel system with the capacity for 2,000 barrels a year, says Dunn, who classified them as “pretty small.”
He will be the head brewer but won’t call himself a master brewer – yet.
“At Deloitte, you had to have 10,000 hours to call yourself a master anything,” he said.
Still, Dunn knows what he likes. He fell in love with British styles while working in London in the early 1990s.
Walking Stick will offer a brown porter, an ESB (Extra Special Bitter), and a lighter farmhouse ale that will be their foundation beers. Other offerings will include a number of different takes on the IPA. Dunn says he has seven good recipes he plans to promote out of the gate.
The beers will be served in the 100 person Tap room, or in the beer garden facing Wakefield. Oak trees from Ramon Duran’s farm that had to be harvested because of their age are being used in the tap room for the bar top and as tables. Adjacent to an indoor wraparound serving station is a walk in cooler that used to be a container in Tom’s fabrication shop. There will be about five staff members to start.
The name Walking Stick comes from Dunn’s son, a senior at the University of Boulder, who started making ornate walking sticks that his dad found to be very cool. Dunn is inspired by the mountains in Colorado where he grew up and says that influence will be felt in the beers and in the atmosphere of the brewery.
“I want to keep things airy and bring in the light,” he said.
Dunn does not think the other breweries and bars on the street are a detriment to his business. If anything, he thinks it’s a plus.
“It’s like all the bars on Washington, or the fast food on Ella, like-minded places congregate together,” he said. “It will bring more business. The only challenge is parking.”
For more information, find them on Facebook.