Thursday, May 13, 2021

Did This Government Pamphlet Launch the Craft Distilling Movement?

In 1982, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy teamed up to publish Fuel from Farms, a Guide to Small Scale Ethanol Production. This 168-page document encouraged farmers to set up small distilleries to produce ethanol from their grain or other agricultural products. By converting their tractors and other farm equipment to run on ethanol, they could become energy self-sufficient. (That was just one of the benefits.)

In addition to publishing this helpful tome, the government streamlined licensing and regulation. It also made a stern effort to exclude beverage alcohol from the equation. 

Although the fuel part never took off, the simplified applications and lower fees were extended to beverage alcohol licenses, triggering a revolution.

Got some spare room in the barn?
Why not start a distillery?
There were other factors too, of course, and craft distilling did not catch fire overnight. But from a handful the movement has grown to more than 2,000 distilleries, all over the U.S., and is adding about 200 new producers each year.

In the new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, we deep dive into the roots of this dynamic movement. In this issue, in Part 1 of this two-parter (or maybe three), we explore the movement from its humble beginnings up to today. Next time we'll survey the contemporary craft distilling landscape. 

It's all in the new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader. Current Reader subscribers should receive their copies in a few days. New subscribers can get on the bandwagon by clicking here.

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1 comment:

Harry in Wash DC said...

THX for the reminder. I remember when that pamphlet came out. Ethanol and gasohol were all the rage, and a friend of mine talked me into investing in a Colorado company that was trying to commercialize its process for catching methane from cow poop piles. The friend had grown up on a pig farm, and he envisioned using methane to heat a small still in order to make ethanol from stuff his pigs wouldn't eat. I'm looking forward to the rest of your story in the BCR. Our story ended when his family sold the farm and the company disappeared.