Students help Truro man launch . . .
Farmer Willie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer
When Brown University graduates Nico Enriquez and Max Easton enrolled at the Ivy League school in 2012, little did the budding entrepreneurs realize that their “hands-on education” would include pounding hundreds of pounds of ginger alongside a humble goat farmer from Truro.
Enriquez, a Bostonian, often spent time in Truro as a youth. When he was 12, he started playing in beach volleyball games organized by Theresa Fenichel, whose bearded brother, Willie, was a reclusive Cape Cod goat farmer. “He tolerated me before he liked me,” Enriquez says of the ginger-bearded Willie. “The first time I met Willie, he was reading Dostoyevsky. He’s a gentle, quiet soul who loves the land and understands it. Willie’s like a modern, quirky Thoreau.”
About eight years ago, to keep busy during the long Cape Cod winters, Willie Fenichel started brewing alcoholic ginger beer, and the zesty concoction quickly gained a loyal local following. He spent about five years perfecting his brew before Enriquez and Easton got involved. “During our sophomore year, I was sitting in Max’s dorm room and I said, ‘People love Willie’s beer, so why don’t we try to make Willie’s ginger beer into a company?’”
Like any good college students, Enriquez and Easton engaged in a tremendous amount of research. They interviewed brewers, brewery owners, restaurateurs, bar owners, and distributors. Leaning on their professors and Brown alumni—including Nantucket Nectars founder, Tom Scott, and Narragansett Brewing president, Mark Hellendrung—the pair learned the ins and outs of a highly regulated, centuries-old industry.
Although the company contracts production out to a Rhode Island brewery at present, the founders have high hopes for an Outer Cape brewery in the future. “We definitely want to bring a brewery to Truro or Wellfleet,” Easton says. “Meanwhile, Willie and his family are working hard to develop new flavors. Willie is doing some amazing stuff with passion fruit and lavender.”
Joe is clear: Try Farmer Willie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer!
For more information about the company, visit farmerwillies.com.
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