1: Welcome to Get Out and SURF

Welcome to the Get Out and SURF podcast. In our first episode, we talk about
– ending our radio show on 99.5fm after 6 years and launching the new podcast!
– opening our brewery in Tamarindo
– how to survive Christmas and New Years on the beach in Costa Rica
– favorite surf vehicles
– finding uncrowded waves in Costa Rica

Audio transcription:

Joe Walsh:
Hey what’s up there? This is Joe Walsh, coming to you with the “Get Out and Surf Podcast.” This is the first one. Numero uno. Coming to you from Tamarindo, Costa Rica, with two of my very closest friends: Niki Hurren-
Niki Hurren:
Hi, how you doing.
Joe Walsh:
And Pat McNulty.
Pat McNulty:
Yup.
Joe Walsh:
You know, I was a little conflicted, because we’d been running this, Witch’s Rock pirate radio show, on 99.5 FM here in Costa Rica.
Joe Walsh:
Radio Dos, Evan Luck, for I wanna say almost six years. I lost track. So say five years.
Niki Hurren:
I’ve only been involved with it for the last four years, and every Friday from 5 p.m. til 7, we’ve done a radio show at the surf camp right there on the beach.
Joe Walsh:
And now, we decided to let the show finally come to an end at the end of 2018. Now here we are, the first Friday of 2019, and it’s that hour, and we’re sitting here, doing this podcast. We thought, “You know, it’s a new year. We’re gonna take it in a new direction.” And so, here we are. So yeah, man. I’ll just take the opportunity I guess to introduce ourselves for those of you who haven’t listened to the show. I’m Joe Walsh. I’m the founder of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp and Volcano Brewing Company here in Tamarindo. It’s a pretty big business these days. That’s why I’ve got Niki and Pat here to help me out. We pretty much do everything to surf. It’s the reason why I’m here. And there’s really not much to say besides that. I don’t know. This is all to support my surf. How bout you, Pat? Maybe you can give a little better …
Pat McNulty:
Well, I finally feel like the ball and chain has been taken off of my ankle, since the radio show stopped.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah.
Pat McNulty:
It’s a bitter-sweet time. We miss Evan. Evan’s a good friend. It’s nice to have a free Friday. Although you figured something out to keep me occupied, which is this radio show.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, but what else are we gonna do, eh? You know, I mean, it’s Friday. It’s sunset.
Pat McNulty:
I know. At my age? Sleep?
Niki Hurren:
We’ve had a lot of fun [crosstalk 00:02:03]
Niki Hurren:
We’ve had a lot of fun doing the radio show over the years, and obviously we’re now wanting to move into the digital era as such. This is the first one. So we’re just gonna give it a go and try and keep the conversation going.
Joe Walsh:
You know what? At the end of the day, it was really cool being on the radio. But it is difficult being on the radio. You have to adhere to a lot of legalities. Going online, we can be a little more relaxed and just talk about whatever the hell we wanna talk about.
Joe Walsh:
The big news is, well, I want Niki to really announce it, but what’s going on up on hill behind the gym there? Because we’ve been really radio-silent for the whole time, and now we’re finally, I think, ready to tell the world.
Niki Hurren:
What we have been doing over the last, I suppose, what is it, six months or more-
Joe Walsh:
I think since April 2018.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah. So what we’ve been doing is, we’re gonna expand the brewery, so we needed a new space for that. We found that warehouse space that was up by Tamarindo Gym, and we’ve been developing that whole area up there. And we’re open. The brewery up there is producing beer, we’re in production. We’re happy to announce that it’s open. You can come up there. We’ve got a full bar. All the beers are on tap so that we can literally start being open to the public.
Joe Walsh:
VolcanoBrewingCompany.com. Don’t go there yet because we haven’t made our website, but we’re about to. We got a Facebook page and an Instagram page we haven’t been paying any attention or giving any love to, but that’s all about to change, because we been busy.
Pat McNulty:
We’ve been busy building a brewery and getting this thing up and running.
Joe Walsh:
And also, not really tell anyone, because I know, for me, until every permit is in hand, and everything is completely done, you just don’t wanna jinx it. You don’t wanna jinx like, telling everyone we’re gonna be open on a certain date. The reality is is that we finally opened but then we ran out of beer.
Niki Hurren:
We’re obviously in the early stages of getting the beer in production. [crosstalk 00:04:04]
Joe Walsh:
When you close one facility … We had to close our small brewery on the beach and then … So we had to wait until all the tanks were empty. We couldn’t be brewing anything else to replace that beer. So our tanks had to wait until they were empty, then we had to move all of it, had to clean it all again, took extra time with, I think, Coope, the electric company here. They installed the wrong transformers. I remember that happened. Some other stuff. It obviously, extra time. And then, we had to go through the whole brew process which, with our ales is at least-
Niki Hurren:
At least 17, 17 to 18 days for the process to get the ales right.
Pat McNulty:
So five week, or six weeks, when it’s all said and done, when you’re not producing beer. We went through a bunch of inventory. Not to mention that the beer we didn’t get out. We just got through Christmas and New Years, which is-
Niki Hurren:
It’s some of our busiest times here, especially for the beer drinkers down on the beach and stuff. We had a little bit of a perfect storm where we had to take the old brewery offline, get the new one up online, and deal with a bunch of technical problems, as you do with any project, unforeseen stuff. Then, with the high demand that we have down here on the beach, for craft ale-
Joe Walsh:
Which is Rock Surf Camp.
Niki Hurren:
So we literally ran out, but we should be kegging the pale ale tomorrow. And then the rest of the beers are coming out soon. They’re in-process.
Joe Walsh:
A lot of people, they’re really interested in maybe moving to a place like Costa Rica and starting their own business. I know our brewery has definitely grown … A much bigger facility than it used to be, but still we had to go through all the same growing pains building a new brewery. So I know people have questions, like, “Was this hard?” I can answer, but I definitely wanna ask you. What was the most challenging part for you in building out our new facility?
Niki Hurren:
Building it out? I don’t need to tell you, it was technical support. To find people down here that have the knowledge to deal with three-phase electricity and the different types of equipment that we got, that we import from China, and the challenges that comes with that.
Joe Walsh:
You’re ordering a glycol chiller and not actually having a control panel to control it.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah. There was no off and on switch. It just literally was a pump with a condenser and that’s it.
Joe Walsh:
I thought it was pretty cheap.
Niki Hurren:
It was very cheap for what it is! But, you know …
Joe Walsh:
That’s what happens when you roll the dice and you buy the stuff from China. You can get some great quality stuff, but you have to really know what you’re looking for. And then, you’re still gonna have issues.
Niki Hurren:
We bought equipment before from China. We bought some kegs in ’18, and they’ve been fantastic and a good added value to the brewery. But when it comes to electrical equipment, components, it’s been a little bit more challenging to find an electrical engineer that has the knowledge and has … The good ones are always busy. When you need them to come right there and then they generally don’t. You add tico time as well, then, things just kind of like … Time just adds up.
Joe Walsh:
I’d like to think that these are growing pains. What you’re doing is you’re building a better team. Once you finally identify the individuals that can deal with the three-phase electricity or all of the refrigeration needs, all the stuff we do with cold rooms and glycol and stuff like that. It gets complicated.
Joe Walsh:
I know for me, the hardest part was simply building a factory. Never done that before. Never built … Never had a space this big. Until you have it, you don’t realize that your construction, all of a sudden you’ve built something.
Niki Hurren:
We went in there, and it was full of … It was washing machines and stuff from a bunch of cabinas and hotel rooms. When we finally got it cleared out and actually saw the amount of space that we had in there, we’ve never worked with anything of that size or that kind of blank canvas before. It was a lot of fun and we planned it out well and it was designed well. But again, there’s unforeseen things. For us, our first, not the first time we built a brewery, but something of this size.
Joe Walsh:
So tell people now, now that we’re open, when are we open, our hours? I don’t wanna ever close, have a day when we close. I know that’s an easier way to do it. When you have a staff and you don’t wanna have someone who has to cover that day off or those days off. But we’re saying, open, 2 o’clock, daily.
Niki Hurren:
2 o’clock daily, and we’re open til 10 p.m. 2 to 10 p.m. every day, is what we’re trying to do right now.
Joe Walsh:
We don’t actually have any beer on tap, today. But probably by tomorrow we will, again. And then within a couple weeks we’ll have our line-up of our pale ale, our IPA, and the Gato Malo on tap. Besides just having beer and a full bar, there’s drinks for kids. We’re getting the root beer floats up and running here this next week. We also got ping pong. We’re putting in foosball, a whole kid’s corner. Bring your families, there’s a lot of concrete. They can ride their three-wheeled scooter things, they can cruise around.
Niki Hurren:
Tell your kids to bring their bicycles and trikes and skates. There’s a flat, concrete space in there. Very safe. There’s nothing going on in there. It’s just a flat space. The kids can have a lot of fun. Just like riding about. It’s a really nice space just to hang out.
Joe Walsh:
What’s even more exciting is that we’re just now finishing our 18 hole disc golf course. Not to be confused with “Frisbee” golf which, apparently, is the incorrect way to say it.
Niki Hurren:
It’s “disc” golf. Disc golf.
Joe Walsh:
I like to call it “Frisbee” golf. Sounds more fun. We’re still trying to get Pat up there.
Pat McNulty:
I gotta say, I’m the guy that doesn’t like anything.
Niki Hurren:
There’s a few things you like! Come on!
Pat McNulty:
I have to say that you guys did a really good job and it looks nice and neat and organized, and I really am proud of you for doing that. But one thing I’d like to say is that if I’m gonna sit here and do these podcasts, you gotta give me a stool that doesn’t hurt my ass. I got a bony ass. And I’m sitting here, shifting around, because my ass hurts.
Joe Walsh:
They’re out of my pool house. These are standard, wooden stools.
Niki Hurren:
I’m gonna have to concur with Pat. This is not like an age thing or anything like that.
Joe Walsh:
We were gonna record it inside, but then you hear the air conditioner humming the whole time. Or my kids would be making noise. Or you do it down in the office and the phone keeps ringing.
Pat McNulty:
I’m the COO of Witch’s Rock Industries. You guys have a brewery. I have not even tasted the beer because I don’t drink. However, all you people in the listening audience, it’s good beer because I said it is. Now come down here and drink it.
Niki Hurren:
Come down here for the experience. It’s the reason we all came down here as well.
Joe Walsh:
We did sell out all of our beers because it was Christmas and New Years and because we finally had it on tap after being out for a couple weeks, cuz we moved the brewery. Everyone that drinks a beer really likes the beer. And to that person that left that one-star review on TripAdvisor two days ago saying, “One star because you didn’t have any beer,” I apologize.
Niki Hurren:
No one is more upset about that than we are.
Joe Walsh:
You’re right. You’re right. A brewery’s out of beer. It’ll be a …
Pat McNulty:
It tickles me to death that that review came in. I really love it. I love the controversy. However, you’re an American. You’re very impatient. This is Costa Rica. We ran out of beer. Contact us. Come and see us again, and we will buy you a beer. We’ll buy you five beers. And your family, too. And your little dog, too! There you go. So show ’em the love.
Joe Walsh:
Alright. So we made it through Christmas and New Years. Patrick, what happened out at the camp?
Pat McNulty:
Oh, it was many people coming in. Many people. They were driving in. They were driving. They were walking. And then after they got drunk, they were walking away, looking like the Walking Dead.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah.
Niki Hurren:
Depending on what time of the day it was, it actually did look like a scene out of the Walking Dead, when you had a herd just walking through like, “Ahhhhh.”
Joe Walsh:
I put the spotlights on my van.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, now that was funny.
Joe Walsh:
I put those on just to shine at it. I felt like I …
Pat McNulty:
And people were scurrying when you put those lights on. However, this is how we make our money. People come in from all over the Tamarindo, because it’s a cool place to come to. And we love it when you come. And we’re teasing a little bit. But you all know what I’m talking about, because you laugh at yourselves, too. We love you coming here. It happens every Christmas. I just wish they’d turn the music down, cuz the older I get the louder it sounds.
Joe Walsh:
Well, what I like is that there was waves throughout most of the entire month of December. We’re doing all of this so that we can keep one eye on the waves and get out there when it’s good. There’s a lot of good waves. Even though it was busy on the beach, there’s some decent waves out in front. And then, finally, after Christmas and towards New Years, it starts really filling in.
Joe Walsh:
I thought I’d take El Rubio and thought we’d go camping. So cruise over to Mina’s and it was absolutely packed. You could barely even find a place to put the car. I’ve never seen that many people. I’ve heard of … god, who told me? I think it was Shawna went down to San Juanillo, thinking they’d be getting out of the craziness. She said it was out of control down there. Just the entire coast. That’s what happens. Be prepared if you come down for Christmas, New Years, or Easter, that’s what you’re gonna get. But, doesn’t mean the waves aren’t gonna be bad or even too crowded, because most of the people don’t surf. They were pretty good. And let’s get on to the surf, because that’s what this is really all about. And El Rubio, the surf van.
Joe Walsh:
What’s your guys’ favorite surf vehicle you’ve ever owned? And what makes a surf vehicle a cool surf vehicle? What are the … I’ve got my list. I wanna hear from you guys. Pat?
Pat McNulty:
I’m a Volkswagen person. Back in 1967, we had a Volkswagen van. I just loved it, because I was a surfer. Volkswagen vans are the surfing van. And as I got older, I started buying the Eurovans, the MF, or the MVs. And it’s kind of like a camper van, but it’s also a transportation van. I used to take that surfing. I just absolutely loved it. You could fold the back seat down and turn it into a bed. In between surf sessions, you could lay down and take a nap and then go out when the waves started getting good again. I’m a VW guy. I always wanted to have a VW, a full-on VW camper.
Niki Hurren:
The Rubio’s been a really welcome added vehicle to help us get to waves, and the thing is just so nostalgic in their even smells, like an old VW. And it is. It’s 40 years old, and we’ve been hanging out in that quite a lot. It’s been a lot of fun. Just hanging out in it-
Joe Walsh:
You had a van, when you were younger, right?
Niki Hurren:
I grew up on the east coast of England. The main important thing that you needed from a surf vehicle is that the heaters worked.
Joe Walsh:
Exactly.
Niki Hurren:
Cuz it was bloody cold. You’d get out of the water. Depending on the time of year.
Joe Walsh:
What was your favorite surf vehicle, ever?
Niki Hurren:
My favorite surf vehicle, ever?
Joe Walsh:
If you had one.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, yeah, I know I had a, I think it’s like a Nissan, I suppose you call it a “Hiace?” Not a Hiace. But something like that. Like a panel van.
Joe Walsh:
It’s a made-up car.
Niki Hurren:
It’s a made-up car. Because in England we don’t actually have cars, we ride horses still. It was just a big panel van and we just threw a futon in the back and had my tools in there from working construction-
Joe Walsh:
How’d you heat it in the winters?
Niki Hurren:
How’d you heat it in the winters?
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. Did you have a heater? I don’t know.
Niki Hurren:
What you did is you had one of those heaters that you could plug in.
Joe Walsh:
Oh, really?
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you go camping somewhere, that’s what you would do. But you … basically like for … When you start surfing in colder climates, as you both know, especially Pat, you need to get in and out of the water. Getting changed is the biggest thing.
Joe Walsh:
How you doing there, brother? My neighbor whistling for his dog.
Niki Hurren:
The idea was that you need to be able to get into the van, be able to change, out of the wind, and you had a decent heater, [inaudible 00:16:23] your hand so you could literally start your car and get out of there.
Niki Hurren:
I had a VW Beetle, and that thing was not good as a surf vehicle. You couldn’t get a surf board in it. You couldn’t get changed-
Pat McNulty:
You couldn’t change in those.
Niki Hurren:
You couldn’t change in it. And it didn’t have [inaudible 00:16:39] [crosstalk 00:16:41]
Pat McNulty:
There’s other things that we figured out how to do in those…
Niki Hurren:
Oh, yeah, yeah.
Pat McNulty:
That was uncomfortable, too.
Joe Walsh:
So, New Year’s resolutions? You guys got any? Nothing?
Pat McNulty:
Oh yeah. I’m gonna get in shape. I’m gonna get in shape. Gonna see my abs again before I die. I work out all the time as you guys well know, but there’s a thing in my head that tells me I need more. I’m gonna work out more and I’m gonna surf more. That’s what I came here for. Not to do all this work. Course it’s not easy, cuz since I’ve been here, Joe keeps expanding. Now we have 130 employees.
Joe Walsh:
No. I think it’s 120. Last time I added.
Pat McNulty:
Well, it balloons up to 130. That’s what it was last time I look. It’s like herding cats.
Niki Hurren:
I don’t have any resolutions. I’m just gonna keep doing, or overdoing.
Joe Walsh:
My resolution is to get more employees for Pat. It sounds like he’s keeping track. We’re gonna shoot for 150 this year?
Pat McNulty:
Yeah. Whatever it is.
Niki Hurren:
You like cats.
Pat McNulty:
I am the Grim Reaper. All in all, we have some really good employees here. I’m just joking. We have really good employees. Life-long employees. It’s taught me a lot of patience. Anyone that knows me knows that I have no patience. But I’ve learned a lot of patience since I’ve come here and started doing this job.
Niki Hurren:
Same here. You have to draw up a lot of patience to deal with a business of this size. How we do things down here is … This is how we do it. We like to have a good time. We love to surf. That’s our main priority at the end of the day. That’s how we all ended up here.
Joe Walsh:
Don’t worry. I’m just gonna edit this part out. Let’s get back to the surfing.
Niki Hurren:
Okay. I’m just gonna keep talking and whatever comes out, sparkles or [inaudible 00:18:40].
Joe Walsh:
Where’s the next surf trip you’re gonna take? We’ve surfed all around Tamarindo, but … Here in the country? What are you eyeing on next? Somewhere here in Costa Rica you wanna surf?
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, but I ain’t gonna say where it is.
Joe Walsh:
Alright. Okay, I think I know where. And that’s good. How bout you, Pat?
Pat McNulty:
It’s gonna be that place that you and I go to often down in the southern zone.
Joe Walsh:
Okay.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah. That was my plan, too.
Joe Walsh:
That’s kind of why we have El Rubio in the first place, for those strike missions when there’s solid [inaudible 00:19:12]. And we won’t mention the spot. But the good news is that here in Costa Rica there are still many spots you can get out to.
Joe Walsh:
That’s a parrot flying by. I was gonna say, wild places with parrots. But we just had them flying through here. They’re all over Costa Rica. Wild spots. Not that many people surfing. There’s still a lot of open space out there.
Pat McNulty:
There is, and it’s always one of the things that always surprised me about Costa Rica. I’ve been to Indo, and I’ve been to Australia and places like that, and it’s very hard to find some uncrowded waves. Unless it’s really sharky, or a pretty serious spot. But over here you can still find really, really good, world-class waves, and not too many people out. Very, very, not-so-much of a localized crowd or anything like that. It’s still good surfing down here and good waves.
Joe Walsh:
That’s true. Very true. I guess that’s why I’ve been here all these years.
Joe Walsh:
So, for all you listeners, thinking about coming to Costa Rica, there’s some great waves down here. If you’re coming to Tamarindo, you should check us out at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. We’ve got places for you to stay, we’ll take you surfing, we’ll get you better surfing. Otherwise, hope to see you in the water either here or there …
Niki Hurren:
Or up in the brewery, or wherever you wanna do.
Pat McNulty:
For all you would-be travelers, Costa Rica is a very safe country to come to, full of “pura vida.” The people love tourism. You gotta come down. Single travelers, families, they all come, they all have a good time.
Joe Walsh:
Tamarindo is pretty nice. You got a little bit of everything.
Joe Walsh:
Alright guys. We made it though our first podcast. Just like that.
Niki Hurren:
Yup. I’ve not even finished my beer!
Joe Walsh:
Talking too much. Cool.
Pat McNulty:
I’m gonna get a La-Z-Boy, so I can sit in a La-Z-Boy next time I’m here. Because this thing really hurts my rear end, I gotta tell you.
Joe Walsh:
This is where we’ll cue the outre music once we get a few episodes in and we get ourselves polished up. (singing)

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