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Family-owned HooDoo Brewing Co. taps into local beer market

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Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 11:41 pm | Updated: 11:52 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — After years of planning, the HooDoo Brewery and Taproom, a converted warehouse now filled with gleaming steel tanks, opened for business Wednesday afternoon.

Bobby Wilken, the brewer and owner, inaugurated operations of the homegrown Fairbanks brewery with two launch beers — a Kolsch and an IPA.

While Silver Gulch is a long-established enterprise in Fox, there hasn’t been a brewery within the city limits of Fairbanks since the early part of the last century.

The HooDoo Brewing Co. is at 1951 Fox Ave., which is off Phillips Field Road near Florcraft in the railroad industrial area. The tap room opened at 3 p.m. and a steady stream of customers dropped by to get a glass of beer or buy a growler of craft brew to take home.

The company also is planning to sell beer by the keg and supply local retail establishments.

Brewing equipment dominates the inside of the building, but there is a handmade bar where customers can stand and order a beer to drink on the premises. HooDoo is licensed as a taproom, not a bar, so under state law it cannot have chairs at tables, TV sets in the background, food service and the other attractions that are more or less standard in bars.

Wilken, a 32-year-old son of former Sen. Gary Wilken and former school board member Sue Wilken, has spent nearly a year-and-a-half renovating the 35-year-old warehouse for the business, working with his wife, Jessica, and others.

The brewery is named for the mountains where the Arctic Man takes place every spring.

As a college student in Missoula, Mont., Wilken studied business and lived close to Big Sky Brewing, where the owners allowed him to get a firsthand look at a small brewery.

He began home brewing as a college student and later attended the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and Munich to learn the art of making beer.

That led to four years in Juneau where he worked as a brewer and in quality control at the Alaskan Brewing Co.

Wilken said he has been dreaming of doing this for more than 10 years and has been working on the business plan for several years.

The brewing equipment is centered around a steam-heated 15-barrel system made by Premier Stainless of San Diego.

The HooDoo Brewing Co. is open from 3-8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

•••

COMPUTER ISSUE: Denali State Bank warned its customers this week that a desktop computer was mistakenly taken to a transfer site and the bank does not know what happened to it. So just in case, the bank is offering one year of free identity theft protection.

The computer was password-protected, the bank says.

“Our attempts to recover the computer were unsuccessful and although we believe the computer was transferred to the landfill where it was compacted and destroyed, we are unable to confirm this,” Denali President Steve Lundgren said in a letter to bank customers this week.

“The computer contained customer information in the form of daily reports which would include customer’s name, account number, balance and transaction information and in some cases, addresses and Social Security numbers. We believe it is very unlikely that the computer contained security information such as user ID information, passwords, customer responses to account security questions or drivers’ license numbers.”

Lundgren said the bank “deeply regrets that this incident occurred” and that the bank is offering one year of free identify theft protection from TrustedID. The letter includes instructions on how to get the theft protection.

“This proactive protection is designed to stop any possible identity theft or fraud before it happens,” he wrote.

 •••

AFTER THE DELUGE: Fairbanksans Dick and Jo Scott, whose new Manhattan apartment is close to the dangling crane on West 57th Street in New York City, say they are doing well.

“We’re about two blocks from it, but we didn’t have to evacuate,” Dick said Wednesday afternoon in a phone interview from their 31st floor apartment on West 56th Street. At the height of the devastating storm, the winds were blowing at about 70 mph, but their building did not lose power.

•••

NEW OWNERS: Congratulations to Christy and Bryan Wiskeman, the new owners of Gulliver’s Books on College Road. They recently bought the store and coffee shop from Dave Hollingsworth, who has retired to Montana.

This sale has been in the works for some time and Christy said it is exciting for both of them because Gulliver’s is an important local institution.

“Everyone has been positive about it,” she said. “One of the most common things we’ve heard so far is that we should keep the Hungarian mushroom soup because it’s great.”

She said that soup fans should not worry. The mushroom soup stays.

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