Joel Padgett, Wes Ports and Eric Troutman are the co-founders of Twenty-Six Acres Brewing, the brewery behind Unicorn Milk. (Credit: Twenty-Six Acres Brewing)
Unicorn Milk is a funny name for a beer. But like the mythical creature it’s named for, the beer has a magic power that’s surprised even the brewer who created it.
Eric Troutman is the head brewer and co-founder at Twenty-Six Acres Brewing outside Charlotte, North Carolina. When Twenty-Six Acres opened in fall 2016, Eric and his co-founders, Wes Ports and Joel Padgett, figured their top-selling beers would be their IPA and wheat ale. But the beer that’s in high demand is the strangely-named Unicorn Milk, a vanilla cream ale with blueberries that Eric thought he’d only make once.
Brewer Eric Troutman says he thought Unicorn Milk would be a one-time beer. (Credit: Twenty-Six Acres)
“It’s one that I only wanted to make one day specifically for a beer fest called Queen City Brewer Fest to benefit autism research,” Eric explains.
The festival asked each brewery to have a special beer on tap that was made with blue and white ingredients. Eric, who started as a homebrewer, figured everyone else would show up with a blueberry milk stout with lactose, so he decided to create a blueberry cream ale beer.
“I’d never made a cream ale in my life,” he says. “I told myself, ‘If I can pull this off, it will be amazing.’”
Eric made a small two-barrel batch, thinking Unicorn Milk would be one and done. But that weekend, they ran out of it at the festival. The small supply they had in the tasting room kicked too.
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“I’m like ‘Uh oh,’” Eric says.
Unicorn Milk was magic. Friends texted him asking when they’d have it on tap again. Strangers were sending him private messages on Facebook asking for an encore.
Eric now brews Unicorn Milk about once a month. (Credit: Chelsea Galusky)
“I didn’t want to make it again. I was like ‘No. This isn’t my thing. This isn’t my style,’” he tells us. “Then I gave into beer pressure.” He brewed a four-barrel batch that disappeared in two weeks. Then he made a 15-barrel batch in May, and he’s made one of the same
He brewed a four-barrel batch that disappeared in two weeks. Then he made a 15-barrel batch in May, and he’s made one of the same size each month since. Eric says it goes to show that no matter how much you plan as a small business owner, your success is ultimately in your customers’ hands.
“You offer your customers all these choices, and they decide which ones are the staple and which one is the best seller,” he says.
In the end, aren’t we all looking for a little magic in the glass?