WHEATLAND – When Cody and Kristal Heimsoth first talked about opening Windy Peaks Brewery they had envisioned brewing beer and maybe offering some appetizers. But with any new venture, hiccups, red-tape and money always tends to put obstacles in the way.
They couldn’t brew beer for the public right away. They had to get the license and they couldn’t apply for the license until they had the equipment – which was very expensive. So the steakhouse was opened to try and raise the capital to be able to brew beer to sell, and that took a little longer than they were expecting. They opened the restaurant in February 2017, got the equipment and the permit approved by the Town of Wheatland in May 2019, and Wheatland’s very own brewery was finally ready to go after two years of hard work and frustrations.
The Heimsoths own and operate TC Edwards that does heating, cooling and plumbing. That was Cody’s job during the day while he experimented with brewing beer in his free time, before Windy Peaks was born. Kristal did kick him out of the house with his hobby when a brew exploded in the pantry while he was out of town.
“There was a river of beer going down the hall that I had to clean up. I told him he was fired,” Kristal said with exasperation and humor. “He was kicked to the shop.”
Just his beer, not him. After that disaster, Cody did more research and bought better equipment with safety valves that release the built-up pressure from the carbonation when the yeast eats the sugar. But that was just a small part of learning about brewing good beer.
“There’s a lot of science to it. I had to buy a microscope,” Cody relayed with enthusiasm. “I really should have paid more attention in chemistry. But I’m learning it now and we’ve traveled all over doing research on how to make good beer.”
He creates his own recipes and spends the days the restaurant is closed to experiment with different flavor profiles.
“Craft beer has more flavor than a beer that is commercially produced and also has more alcohol content,” he explained. “We’ve exposed the brewery scene to our town and they’ve been willing and supportive. So far all of our beers have been the top-selling beers.”
They normally have 16 beers on tap with six or seven being Windy Peaks creations. Cody is currently working with is “Mad” series. Beers flavored with Madagascar Vanilla with fruit purée including: mango, strawberry, orange and peach. He tries to brew all kinds of beers to cater to local preferences and tastes. He prefers IPAs (India Pale Ale - a type of light-colored beer that is bitter, typically with a higher than average alcohol and hop content) more than milder beers so he brews a variety to satisfy his own cravings and curiosity. This winter he hopes to produce a line of stouts, a dark beer similar to Guinness. Anyone who might be hesitant to buy a whole glass of a beer they have never tried, never fear – the flight is available. A “flight” is a sampler where you can try four different three-ounce glasses of beer to get a taste of what craft beer is all about.
Tourists traveling I-25 in the summertime have been a great support for their venture and the other downtown businesses. They have had customers as far away as Europe come to drink their ales.
After he has removed the sugars from the grains for the brewing process, the spent grains are full of proteins that are great for livestock. Whenever he has some, he posts on the Windy Peaks Facebook page that he has free grain for anyone who needs it and to come pick it up at the alley behind the building.
“It’s great food for 4-H animals,” he relayed. “I have two or three bins available a week usually. As we get bigger it will be more and more food available. And it’s free, I just need the totes back.”
Cody and Kristal attribute their success and ability to start brewing beer to the dependability and hard work of their staff who are able to keep the restaurant going strong. Growlers (64 ounces) of beer are available for pick-up for those who wish to take the beer home. Gift certificates are available for holiday gift giving.
“Some day we hope to upscale and brew more. Maybe bottle and distribute,” Cody said with excitement.
“It been an interesting adventure and not something I saw myself doing,” Kristal added. “TC Edwards is his job, but brewing is his passion.”