Thursday, September 13, 2012
The Backyard Distillery. It Can Be Done.
This is a legal distillery we're talking about, fully licensed, making a distilled spirits product that will be bottled and sold. You know, vodka, gin, rum.
Is that possible or crazy?
If you've had these thoughts, 'crazy' is probably where you netted out. If you live in a typical suburb, on a quarter-acre lot or smaller, you're probably right. But what if you are out in the country, on a couple of acres, adjacent to undeveloped property, in a zoning-free zone, but still on the school bus route? Is it still crazy or can it be done?
Ask Tom and Lianne Herbruck. You've read here before about their Tom's Foolery Distillery near Cleveland. The first time was two years ago. This one talks about their acquisition of the equipment from the Michter's barrel-a-day distillery, described in the recent book, The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste.
The Herbrucks have checked with all of the relevant local officials, who have no problem with any of it. The neighbors? They're pretty far away. The nearest are running a Llama rescue, or something like that, so they have no complaints.
Tom and Lianne are a young couple with several young children. Tom has not quit his day job in the employee benefits industry. They now have one employee. The distillery is a family operation, with everybody -- including the extended family and many friends -- pitching in as needed.
In the picture above, the Herbrucks are receiving a new mash cooker. The1976 Michter's mash cooker is 250 gallons, half the size of the fermenters, so it took two time-consuming cooks to fill each fermenter. The distillery building, which holds the boiler, a small chiller, two stills, a cooker, and two 500 gallon fermenters, with grain and other storage in the loft, is pretty stuffed. They now have a separate barrel barn, but that's not in the family's back yard like the distillery.
It's in the front yard.