When Wendy Neff and Felipe Bravo met some years ago, love wasn’t the only thing that was brewing between the two; they quickly took up home-brewing as a shared hobby. A year into their relationship, the pair entered a home-brewing competition and not only took home honorable mention for a beet beer they produced, but also won best in show for an IPA which gave the pair the realization, “Wow! We’re not too bad at this!” – To be fair, Wendy had superb guidance. By that time, Felipe had about 8 years of home-brewing and 5 years of brewing professionally under his belt. It was a validating moment for the pair, offerring Felipe a better understanding of the brewing process as a whole, giving him the confidence he needed to scale down recipes, and eventually leading him greater roles in the brewhouse.
“Brewing never felt like a career I could get into,” admits Felipe. “It happened almost too naturally.” Felipe comes from an Engineering background. “[Brewing] felt like second nature. I was given great opportunities because I worked really hard… never grew complacent. I learned so much … Felt like the next step was to open a brewery!”
Wendy comes to the partnership with a culinary background (formerly leader of the Superfoods program at Facebook’s Headquarters) and an affinity for fermented foods, thanks to her own curiosities about the playful and healthful nature of food. Wendy draws her inspiration from the likes of David Zilber, formerly of Noma in Copenhagen, books by Kirsten Shockey, fermentation expert and Alexis Nikole, known as @blackforager on Instagram (who is in fact, a national treasure. Follow her now and thank me later).
One of the many goals Fox Tale Fermentation Project is to offer a synergist approach by pairing beer and fermented foods as one cohesive experience – to showcase the seasonality and flavor and how they work together, much like the couples’ creative approach. Wendy is more of the visionary, while Felipe is the technical executor. “We kind of work backwards.” tells Wendy.
The facility, which will simultaneously produce fermented bevs and foods, strives toward sustainability by utilizing what would be amounted to waste. Perhaps taking beer that was unable to be packaged and turning it into vinegar, culturing brine from one of Wendy’s batches of fermented radish pickles and used it to brew, using the Solera method, and even implementing a unique approach to reusing spent grain and turning it into miso.
“We want to give more than what we take from our patrons.” With this approach, the duo hopes to attract people of all kinds, offering Non-Alcoholic options that are just as intentional as the beer itself. In addition to inclusive beverages, they intend to make the space accessible for all abled bodies, with the intention of catering to groups of all sizes, making Fox Tale Fermentation Project truly inclusive for all kinds.
Being that Fox Tale is Mexican and Female owned, the pair recognizes the crucial importance of creating a safe and welcoming space for their patrons. “We want to create a space to include people like us,” says Felipe. Furthermore, to uphold the foundations of diversity, equity and inclusion, the pair plans to teach classes on brewing and fermenting foods in hopes of offering knowledge and opportunity to folks reaching beyond the existing craft beer community.
That’s why they chose to crowd fund, rather than to be held to a certain standard by banks or big lenders. “We are beholden to our community, indebted to the community who uplifted and financially supported us.”
Fox Tale Ferm plans to begin production some time in the Fall. Once their crowdfunding campaign wraps on June 4th, they can set sights on purchasing their 2.5bbl brewing system. As of last week, Fox Tale Ferm met 30% of it’s financial goal, to which they are incredibly humbled. To donate and learn more, visit their Indiegogo page – You can donate any monetary amount you choose, or purchase some Fox Tale gear which proudly and accurately portrays their image.
Best of luck to this incredible dynamic duo. Follow their progress on Instagram @foxtalefermentationproject