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Meet Nico Enriquez of Farmer Willie’s

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nico Enriquez.

Nico, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I met Willie when I was 12 on the Cape because he lived down the road and had these awesome goats. He had been home brewing an absurd ginger beer for years. I tried it much later on after we became good friends. Lots of late night dinner conversations led to us selling the ginger beer at the Ptwon Farmer’s Market to test it out in 2015. Now 3 years later we are hustling like crazy and having a ball. We have 6 employees, have Food & Wine writing a paragraph about our brew, and are growing as people and a team.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One of the more memorable challenges has been grinding our ginger while trying to keep costs low. We do not have the budget for an industrial strength grinder at this point so we have instead elected to use our friends Cuisinart… little did they know the one we had bought for our winter test batches had literally ruptured like a grenade and flayed its steel parts all the way across the room under the weight of only 9 lbs worth of ginger juice.

Luckily, the ginger gods smiled on us at that moment and all the pieces missed any major body parts. Like all good boys of 22 years of age, we didn’t learn from our near death experience. For the launch batch, we decided that we could juice 300 lbs of ginger if we borrowed 3 Cuisinart instead of our usual 1. But we elected to go extra slow and run over to the hose to spray down the Cuisinart after every handful of ginger so that it didn’t over lode and we didn’t die. Recipe for success?

Well, it literally took 4 of us 12 hours to wash, chop, grind, and juice the 300 lbs of ginger. Then, because I underestimated the juice yield by a third we had to go back and hand squeeze the juice out of every bit of ginger pulp that was the waste byproduct of our Cuisinart system (the team was not happy with me). After 13 hours of grinding our hand were pruny with ginger juice…. and our hands felt like they had a vat of icy hot on them for 2 days afterwards because of the ginger burn.

Luckily, ginger is good for your skin though, and we smelled super healthy, and we didn’t die. Now, we have a specialized team, facility, and equipment for grinding and pressing our ginger…

Please tell us about Farmer Willie’s.
We are trying to bring transparency and good ingredients to the alcohol industry. No one knows what they are drinking because calories and nutrition facts are not labeled on alcohol. That is so weird.

Our first product is a made with cold pressed ginger, lemon, and a touch of cane sugar. It is fermented to 4.5% alcohol by volume with champagne yeast and because we don’t use grain or hops it’s gluten-free. Its clean fresh and has a touch of spice but its also fewer calories than wine and tastes damn good.

The dream is we make a drink that is so good and so clean you can have a few and not get that whole- ooof that beer is sitting heavy feeling.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have built better communication and feedback structures into the company from the beginning. When you start it’s all about just making the thing work but its key to take care of each other along the way. My best friend and business partner got burnt out last year because we work 80-90 hours a week and I didn’t support him enough.

That was a hard lesson that I am now really trying to take to heart but I wish I had known the key of good communication and conscious support into this thing from day 1.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Allegra Anderson

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