Friday, July 3, 2009

Craft Brewers Get Spiritual

It seems like more & more craft breweries are getting into the art of distilling. While this isn't exactly a new trend (McMenamins out in the Portland area has been doing it for over a decade now), the craft brewer's attraction to creating a "micro distillery" is gaining momentum.

Among others, Rogue and Anchor have hopped on the distilling bandwagon and have excelled. Rogue continues to win award after award (if you didn't click on that link, you should), and has even crossed its arts by aging its flagship Rogue Dead Guy Ale in Dead Guy Whiskey barrels - creating John John Dead Guy Ale. Don't hold your breath trying to get some of that barrel-aged ale here, though - they only made 12 kegs which were distributed to Oregon pubs.

But let's get back to the subject at hand. I've had my eye on Anchor's Junipero for quite a while now. When I first saw it, it was over $60/bottle. Now that it's at the $30 mark, a bottle of this craft gin seems pretty darn affordable. Today, I finally picked up a bottle at Royal Liquors.

Anchor makes a couple of gins, Junipero and Genevieve. Genevieve is actually a Dutch style of gin called Genever, which is the predecessor to modern-day gin. Genever begins with malt wine (distilled grain mash), whereas modern gin is made from a neutral grain spirit. Both gin and genever then have various botanicals added to their base spirit, are distilled one or more times (the essential oils infused along the way) and have purified water added to get the final product ready for market. (If you're interested in a review of Anchor's Genevieve, this is a pretty good one - and it even has a cocktail recipe.) I didn't see Anchor's Genevieve at Royal, but they did have a bottle of Boomsma Jonge Genever (young genever) which appears to be pretty popular.

But I digress - again. Back to microdistilleries. The trend has hit Missouri! Well, St Louis anyway. The Stable is a fabulous beer bar that not only brews its own beers but also distills spirits. Square One Brewery & Distillery, sister-brewery of Augusta Brewing, cleverly brands its spirits under the name "Spirits of Saint Louis". (How was that not already taken?) We'll be going to St Louis later this month and I hope to check out products from both of these distilleries. I've been highly impressed by Rogue's spirits, and Anchor's Junipero is a fantastic gin. If these are any indication of what's to come from other craft breweries' distillery efforts, I hope the trend is here to stay.

1 comment:

  1. The Stable is very cool; I just visited last month. They had the Helles and Marzen then. Now they have a Zoigl which I haven't heard of before. Live and learn.

    I'm sure I don't need to tell you that Mattingly is very close to The Stable (less than a mile). I particularly enjoyed their Rye Trippel.

    Have a good trip, Barry


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