Making the wort
The first step in making beer is creating an infusion of malted barley and hops in hot water. This is called the ‘wort.’ In typical whiskey, these grains cost about 10 cents a batch. Ours cost $1.20. Our mantra is “Quality In, Quality Out,” Higher quality ingredients are going to give us a better tasting beer...and a better whiskey.
Fermenting the beer
In the fermentation stage we add yeast to the wort. The yeast feeds off the sugars from the grain and converts them to alcohol -- a process that takes a minimum of 14-21 days.
Here again, quality matters. We use high grade brewers yeast, as opposed to the “turbo” yeast used in distiller’s beer. Distiller’s yeast costs about $10 a batch and takes two days to ferment. Brewer’s yeast costs about $500 a batch and takes 2-3 weeks to ferment.
When the fermentation is complete, we have a craft beer. We can carbonate and package the batch for you to drink as-is, or we can distill it into whiskey. Or we do both!
Distilling the beer
Here we boil our completed beer and evaporate it into our copper still, where the alcohol is collected in its condensed form in the column on the right. There is good alcohol we like and harsh ones we don’t. Distillers will refer to “Foreshots, Heads, Hearts and Tails.”
The Foreshots are the first vapors to boil off, which is actually poisonous methanol! The Heads are slightly less harsh alcohols, which are chemical-tasting and smell terrible. The Tails become dull and bitter. It’s the Hearts we want -- ethanol rich in flavor and smooth tasting. After two distillates, we strip these Hearts from the batch. We now have raw, un-aged whiskey known as "white dog."
Aging the whiskey
The alcohol that we just distilled is now removed and diluted to 119 proof with distilled water. After resting for several days it's placed in a barrel and allowed to age for up to two years. This is another benefit of starting with a high quality beer...we don't need to wait as long!
Once the whiskey is done aging, it’s drinkable but very strong, or “cask strength” (59.9% ABV). We may occasionally release it that way, but more often we’ll dilute it further to bring it down to about 94 proof before bottling.