Finally! Batch #001

We made beeeeeeer! 1.75 years after beginning this endeavor, Mike finally had the pleasure of manning the brewhouse to do his magic. For all of us, this was a surreal moment. To envision a goal, to want a dream to happen so badly that patience merely vanishes, could be likened to torture. It hadn’t quite been long enough for us to be completely numb, yet the surreal feeling that occurs when you can’t actually believe something is finally happening, was what we all felt. All the obstacles that had stood in our way were fading away. We were finally living what we had imagined.

The smell of the mash.

The stacks steaming with a scent like a bread factory.

The high frequencies of the pumps.

The temperature of ten boiling barrels of wort.

The wandering aroma of hops.

We had seen Mike at various places over the years, working his magic and showing us around at The Power Plant, Boulevard, The Lost Abbey, and Mason, but this time the magic was happening on our own system, at our very own place. The moment when surreal becomes real, is when a dream becomes a reality. Woodhouse Blending & Brewing made its first beer and it turned out very tasty, a fruity and quenching 6.5% Brut IPA.

Cheers to many more to come.

Glycol. Glycol. Glycol!

~William Moxham || Co-founder/Owner

After a bunch of flake outs for the Glycol installation, Tyler decided we could and should take on the challenge ourselves.  There were plenty of resources telling us that we could do the job, including some close friends who had done it themselves.  After a bunch of research, Tyler landed on Aquatherm.  Aquatherm is a heat infused piping system made from specialized PP-R, one of the most chemically inert piping materials in the world.  It was the perfect solution to standard PVC for countless reasons, and after learning how to use it and completing the job, we're not only prouder to have done it ourselves, but we would also highly recommend using it!

Moving our brewhouse in.

~William Moxham || Co-founder/Owner

We ordered a 10bbl brewhouse from Premier Stainless, the same system that Mike had set up for Mason Ale Works.  The moment it was done we drove down to San Diego to see it.  I'd have to say, seeing the system for the first time in the Premier warehouse blew my mind.  The work they do is immense.

After a month or so, the brewhouse and cellar tanks appeared at our doorstep on a cold and rainy Santa Cruz morning.  Our contractor was there waiting to tackle moving the tanks.  Mike had moved and raised many tanks in his career, but we didn't own a fork lift yet, and maneuvering around the grounds and into the building wasn't the simplest obstacle course by any means.

In the meantime, we brand ourselves.

~William Moxham || Co-founder/Owner

While construction was going down, we ordered our brewhouse and began branding ourselves.  I can tell you now, after being through the process, naming a dream with a group of strongly opinionated friends is tumultuous and perplexing.  I'll be honest, I ducked out of the naming process after too many brewery meetings turned into silly arguments about the name.  So then, it was up to Ken, Mike, and Tyler to come up with something to call ourselves.  I figured since I was going to accept the challenge of creating a logo and marketing our brand, that I would make it even harder on myself by having absolutely nothing to do with the naming process.  Eventually the guys came up with the name, Woodhouse Blending & Brewing.  I humbly accepted the challenge.

After days of intense brainstorming, deep meditation and visualization, I did what I've always done under last minute pressure and deadlines: slept on it.  In the morning when I awoke, it came to me.  The perfect W. I jumped out of bed and ran into the living room and I held up a beautiful quilt my partner had made for me—a black and white houndstooth patterned quilt made to honor my dad's 1966 Cyclone GT.  As I'd visualized when I awoke, the top half of the houndstooth was the most perfect W.  Woodhouse.  I googled houndstooth and learned that it was a Scottish pattern originating around 300 BC.  It was the perfect inspiration for a design, old and ancient as are ales.  Classic.  Modern.  A transcending tessellation.

 

 

Construction finally begins.

~William Moxham || Co-founder/Owner

After putting the word out to our network for an architect, we linked up with Rebecca Friedberg, Synapse Design (https://www.synapsedesignstudio.com).  When she suggested we meet up at Fieldwork to finalize our plan of attack over a beer, we knew we had our match.  She truly worked magic throughout the process and went above and beyond to get us through the permitting process, teaming up with our man Tyler, and our insanely talented contractor, Michael Dogerty.

Once we had finally obtained our building permit, it was time to sit back and watch the Dog (Dogerty) destroy the playground.  We'd never seen a three foot slab with miles of rebar, a whole warehouse wall cleanly chopped out, and a new building framed and raised so quickly and efficiently.  It was truly amazing to watch talented builders turn a drawing into the future home of our brewhouse and cellar.

What to do, what to do?

~William Moxham || Co-founder/Owner

On September 20th 2016, we signed a lease with Santa Cruz legend, contractor, builder, and family man, Tom Reese.  Tom built the clock tower down town, hence my usage of the term, legendary.  Tom showed a sincere empathy for our dream, and he expressed many times over that he was ecstatic we were opening a brewery.  Tom liked beer and he really wanted this area of River St. to be cleaner and livelier, and he felt that a craft brewery would provide just that.  Unfortunately, Tom passed away earlier this year.  Not only do we intend on brewing a batch dedicated to him, but we intend to honor all his wishes of bringing something good to the community of Santa Cruz, the place he held dear till the end of his days.

In the early stages of our journey, we weren't entirely sure how to utilize the beautiful space we had obtained.  With wooden floors raised about three feet above ground, how were we going to put all this equipment in there?  Would it hold all that weight?  Even though our structural engineer concluded that it could hold, we still decided it would be best to cut one thousand square feet of the floor out and pour the brewery foundation and drains at ground level.  The only down side of that plan, was that it greatly reduced the amount of community and tasting room space.  So in an effort to preserve the whole warehouse floor-plan, thinking literally outside of the box, Tyler suggested we open up the backside of the building facing the railroad tracks, and build a 1000 square foot addition.  Though it would be our most costly endeavor, our problems were solved.  Yet, that was the point when a small dream became immense and intimidating, still we made our plans to conquer the space.  

The Inception of Woodhouse

~William Moxham || Co-founder/Owner

I moved to California in 2011 as I had always dreamed I would someday.  Thanks to old friends, I found myself in Santa Cruz.  And it was easy to stay and thrive simply because I've always felt at ease close to the ocean.  One of my childhood friends, Mike Rodriguez, already a veteran brewer at the time, was living down in San Marcos brewing for Port/The Lost Abbey.  It was through visiting him at Boulevard when we still lived in Kansas City, and then passing through The Lost Abbey while he was there later, that I grew more and more interested in the beer industry.  On a more recent visit to San Marcos, I threw out the idea of opening a place in Santa Cruz—our own place.  I was surprised to find that he was open to it.  Over the next year we would formulate a plan to go for the gold.

Knowing we could never do it all on our own, Mike reeled in the big fish, Tyler Johansen, an avid home brewer, beer aficionado, and a master of paper work, and I reeled in another one of our childhood best friends, Ken Keiffer.  We were unstoppable.  Quickly we found and secured a building.  The journey had begun…

 

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