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CorvallisCracker
01-15-2010, 15:19
A couple of local guys, not what you'd call wealthy, with big plans.

If you follow the link to their website, pay no attention to the term "straight rye whiskey" - they've already been advised that they can't use that term for their whiskey. They'd love to be able to age it two years in new charred barrels, but can't afford that (yet). Second hand barrels are cheap here in Oregon wine country, and any they buy from the winery next door can be rolled over, eliminating transportation costs as well.

The following is lifted from my blog, so if it seems that's it's directed to a more general audience than sb.com, that's because it is.

Hard Times Distillery
New distilleries are popping up in Oregon faster than mushrooms after a summer rain. This time three years ago there were only ten; currently the number is approaching twenty five. Most are small, variously called "boutique", "craft", "artisan" or "micro" distilleries. We had one in Corvallis for a while (Ransom), during the early years of the 201st decade, but in 2004 it relocated to the greener pastures of McMinnville.

But just down the road, in the thriving metropolis of Monroe, another one is starting up. Located in a former granary just north of the Broadley winery, Hard Times Distillery (http://www.hardtimesdistillery.com) will begin producing vodka and whiskey within the next few months.

It's been a year since owners Dudley Clark and James Stegall began the process of finding a location, obtaining the required permissions and permits from federal, state and municipal authorities, purchasing all the parts and pieces and assembling them into a functioning distillery. There are still a number of items yet to come in, such as a column for the second still and barrels for aging the whiskey, but they're getting very close.

Initially the partners plan to produce their spirits from rye. A number of vodkas are made from this grain (Sobieski, Square One, Belvedere) and rye whiskey has been around even longer than bourbon. Since the end of prohibition most rye whiskies are made partially from corn and malted barley (a typical "mashbill" being 60% rye, 30% corn and 10% malted barley). At Hard Times, however, the goal is to produce a 100% rye spirit. "I'm a purist," says Dudley Clark, "and I'd like to avoid using anything else."

The trick with this, of course, will be getting the rye starch to convert into sugar. Unless you add enzymes (something Clark hopes to avoid), then the mash needs to contain a portion of malted grain (grain allowed to partly germinate, which generates natural enzymes that convert starch to sugar). Barley malt is very good for this, rye malt not as much. As of January 10th, Clark has not made a final decision.

The next step is fermentation, and rye is a notoriously difficult grain to ferment, with a tendency to "ball up" into clumps. Clark is investigating solutions to this as well.

Their target for initial production is the end of February. High proof spirit will be produced and bottled as vodka, lower proof will go into barrels, ultimately to be bottled as whiskey. Some of the latter may be bottled in as soon as four or six months, not a long time for whiskey, but the partners need to recoup some of their investment. "We're pretty close to maxed out," says Clark.

Assuming all goes well, longer range plans might include wasabi-infused vodka, and a vodka made from wine. Perhaps even gin (dare we hope for a genever style?).

In any event, I plan to be first in line for both the vodka and the whiskey, and you'll be seeing my reviews here. Stay tuned.

CorvallisCracker
03-02-2010, 11:23
Update on Hard Times.

The partners have decided to delay whiskey production until next year at the soonest, this year concentrating on vodka. Their still - a small column type - can be converted to operate as a pot still by removing the plates, but they've decided to acquire a new still more appropriate for whiskey when they get ready to do that.

This, of course, all depends on how successful they are with their vodka. If that fails, then it will be hard times indeed.

This also affects my own plans. I've communicated to a number of folks here (via chat and PM) that I'd planned to do a private label rye whiskey with HT, aging it in new charred American oak for 4+ years. Looks like that's on hold for a while...

cowdery
03-02-2010, 14:14
Why don't they just buy some rye whiskey and pretend they made it? That seems to work.

CorvallisCracker
03-02-2010, 15:04
Why don't they just buy some rye whiskey and pretend they made it? That seems to work.

Because, Chuck, for some of us the creating of the thing is what it's all about.

cowdery
03-02-2010, 19:58
Because, Chuck, for some of us the creating of the thing is what it's all about.

Yeah, but that's a sucker's game. At least one member of the new eleven-member DISCUS Craft Distillers Advisory Council (http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2010/02/discus-offers-craft-distillers.html) has not sold one drop of anything he's made.

Then again, I don't think very much of craft vodka either.

CorvallisCracker
03-03-2010, 08:48
Yeah, but that's a sucker's game.

A bit of nastiness purely for the sake of being nasty. I'll give it the response it deserves: :slappin:



At least one member of the new eleven-member DISCUS Craft Distillers Advisory Council (http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2010/02/discus-offers-craft-distillers.html) has not sold one drop of anything he's made.

So? The DISCUS group is irrelevant.


Then again, I don't think very much of craft vodka either.

Neither do I. The HT partners are doing it as a means to an end. If they can make enough from vodka sales, they can move on to bigger and better things.

There seems to be a common misconception that the craft distilleries are all started by "some rich guy" who's doing it as a self-indulgence. That may be true is some cases, but not all, and it's definitely not the case with HT.

cowdery
03-03-2010, 10:12
God, I hate to have to explain my jokes.

I wasn't mocking the HT guys, Scott, I was mocking the guys who don't care about making anything and who operate Potemkin Craft Distilleries (http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2010/02/potemkin-craft-distilleries.html). I was being sarcastic. I get enough grief from those guys without getting it from people who agree with me but don't get my jokes. I complain about those guys all the time so it's my fault, my hubris for thinking people here actually read what I write.

Obviously, my comment about the new DISCUS group just muddied the water. The DISCUS group is very appropriate, in that it represents the small producers who are furthest along in operating small scale distilled spirits businesses. But the fact that at least one of them has never sold a drop of anything he's distilled shows the focus is not on craft, it's on business.

I think those guys are confusing this emerging industry, which is supposed to be about craft distilling. I certainly hope your buddies want to be craft distillers, not phonies who use the illusion of craft distilling to drive a different kind of business altogether.

Feel free to disagree with me, Scott, but not when we actually agree.

sailor22
03-03-2010, 11:03
Feel free to disagree with me, Scott, but not when we actually agree.

I don't get it. What exactly do you mean by that remark?

CorvallisCracker
03-03-2010, 11:23
Oh, I was quite aware that this


Why don't they just buy some rye whiskey and pretend they made it? That seems to work.

was a case of ironic humor.


Because, Chuck, for some of us the creating of the thing is what it's all about.

So is pretending to not get it.

However


Yeah, but that's a sucker's game.

when it involves name calling, it ceases to be amusing.


God, I hate to have to explain my jokes.

So do I.


I wasn't mocking the HT guys, Scott, I was mocking the guys who don't care about making anything and who operate Potemkin Craft Distilleries (http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2010/02/potemkin-craft-distilleries.html). I was being sarcastic. I get enough grief from those guys without getting it from people who agree with me but don't get my jokes. I complain about those guys all the time so it's my fault, my hubris for thinking people here actually read what I write.

Sure, I read what you write, and completely agree with your view about these so-called distilleries. However that agreement is based on the knowledge of what they're doing/not doing. Yes, you've done us all a great service in bringing these facts forward, but others have done this as well, as well as providing information that bears on the character of some of the individuals behind these operations (http://www.ellenjaye.com/kybourbondist.htm#top) (paragraphs seven and eight are particularly revealing).


Obviously, my comment about the new DISCUS group just muddied the water. The DISCUS group is very appropriate, in that it represents the small producers who are furthest along in operating small scale distilled spirits businesses.

The OR distillery that's furthest along is Clear Creek, and it would be nice if it was CC, and not Rogue, on the council. Unfortunately Steve McCarthy is very much a "go my own way" guy and I'd bet any amount of money that he does not belong to the DISCUS group.

Rogue is a real distillery, and they make some decent rums, but their 30 day old "Dead Guy Whiskey" is an embarrassment.


But the fact that at least one of them has never sold a drop of anything he's distilled shows the focus is not on craft, it's on business.

Which is one reason I question their relevance.

Here in OR we have our own group, the Oregon Distillers Guild, which performs many of the same functions and then some.


I think those guys are confusing this emerging industry, which is supposed to be about craft distilling. I certainly hope your buddies want to be craft distillers, not phonies who use the illusion of craft distilling to drive a different kind of business altogether.

I believe that they are. I wouldn't be considering a business relationship with them if I didn't.


Feel free to disagree with me, Scott, but not when we actually agree.

I don't agree that using back-handed humor (particularly when it involves name-calling) is the best way to express approval of a distillery which is not doing something you've been saying shouldn't be done.

CorvallisCracker
03-03-2010, 12:03
Anyway, in an attempt to get this thread back on track...


The partners have decided to delay whiskey production until next year at the soonest, this year concentrating on vodka. Their still - a small column type - can be converted to operate as a pot still by removing the plates, but they've decided to acquire a new still more appropriate for whiskey when they get ready to do that.

This also affects my own plans. I've communicated to a number of folks here (via chat and PM) that I'd planned to do a private label rye whiskey with HT, aging it in new charred American oak for 4+ years. Looks like that's on hold for a while...

...I'll say that I probably have only myself to blame for this. I repeately advised them that it would be a mistake to age whiskey 4-6 months in second-hand wine barrels. Now they want to wait until they can get a whiskey-only still, new charred barrels and can age it longer. It would be silly to fault them for taking my advice, but the delay was an unanticipated consequence. :rolleyes:

cowdery
03-03-2010, 12:10
I'm sorry you took the "sucker" remark the wrong way too. To a cynic, anyone who does things the hard, honest way when there is a cheap, shoddy and easy alternative is a "sucker." In that context, since I am similarly a "sucker" as, I believe, are you, "sucker" is a badge of honor, not an insult. But again, I take full responsibility for my inability to express myself unambiguously.

I'll leave it at this because I think we're still talking past each other, even though we in fact seem to agree across the board, including your comments about Rogue.

CorvallisCracker
03-03-2010, 12:31
I'm sorry you took the "sucker" remark the wrong way too. To a cynic, anyone who does things the hard, honest way when there is a cheap, shoddy and easy alternative is a "sucker." In that context, since I am similarly a "sucker" as, I believe, are you, "sucker" is a badge of honor, not an insult. But again, I take full responsibility for my inability to express myself unambiguously.

I'll leave it at this because I think we're still talking past each other, even though we in fact seem to agree across the board, including your comments about Rogue.

Peace, dude. :cool:

Aside on the Rogue "Dead Guy" whiskey. It's made from the same mashbill as "Dead Guy" ale. This is actually a decent beer. It's what's technically known as a maibock, and if you go check it out at www.beeradvocate.com (http://www.beeradvocate.com), you'll see it gets pretty good reviews/ratings.

I've never had the whiskey, but I've received only negative reports from those who have. I'm really not sure how serious they are about it - it may be something they intend to stop making as soon as the novelty (and sales) wears off.

Dudley of Hard Times has tried it. We were discussing it the other day.

Dudley: It was very unimpressive. And they --as their hype machine puts it-- use free range water! No wonder it's so expensive [$40]. Imagine how many guys it takes to run around and catch that stuff.

Me: I suppose it depends on how tight the weave is on their nets.

cowdery
03-03-2010, 14:16
I've had the Rogue whiskey and it's exactly like every other quicky, "look, I made whiskey," so-so malt whiskey from a brewer. Nothing special.

callmeox
03-03-2010, 15:11
I've had the beer (John John?) that they age in barrels from the Dead Guy whiskey and I found it to be nothing special, either. The disclaimer here is that I've not had a bourbon/whiskey barrel aged beer yet that blew my hair back.

cowdery
03-03-2010, 16:22
I've had the beer (John John?) that they age in barrels from the Dead Guy whiskey and I found it to be nothing special, either. The disclaimer here is that I've not had a bourbon/whiskey barrel aged beer yet that blew my hair back.

They are hard to find and though I've found a couple, I can never seem to find them again. I remember one night at Hopleaf in particular. Ah, the great beers we're pretty sure we've tasted.

ebo
03-04-2010, 17:35
Peace, dude. :cool:

Aside on the Rogue "Dead Guy" whiskey. It's made from the same mashbill as "Dead Guy" ale. This is actually a decent beer. It's what's technically known as a maibock, and if you go check it out at www.beeradvocate.com (http://www.beeradvocate.com), you'll see it gets pretty good reviews/ratings.

I've never had the whiskey, but I've received only negative reports from those who have. I'm really not sure how serious they are about it - it may be something they intend to stop making as soon as the novelty (and sales) wears off.

Dudley of Hard Times has tried it. We were discussing it the other day.

Dudley: It was very unimpressive. And they --as their hype machine puts it-- use free range water! No wonder it's so expensive [$40]. Imagine how many guys it takes to run around and catch that stuff.

Me: I suppose it depends on how tight the weave is on their nets.

"Dead Guy Ale" is one of my favorites. I almost always have it on hand.