View Full Version : Why haven't beer makers also been whiskey distillers?

04-01-2013, 21:48
It seems like a natural extension of the base product into a distilled spirit....

Wow, a quick Google search turned up this story:


Brewer, distiller concoct a joint venture
Berkshires company to use Sam Adams beer to create a pair of premium whiskeys
By Dan Adams | Globe Correspondent June 18, 2012

A trend developing? Certainly if the product is successful it could spawn imitators.

JIm Koch says it nicely:

"When you distill, you’re taking little slices of the essential flavors in beer,” said Jim Koch, Boston Beer founder. “To me, it’s just a continuation of learning and understanding beer.”

04-02-2013, 00:04
Corsair has always taken this approach. The owner joking refers to beer as whiskey that just hasn't been finished yet. Many of their experimental whiskeys are based on beer recipes.

04-02-2013, 03:44
Some have. E.g. Molson in Canada in the early 1800's brewed and distilled. Generally though the businesses have been separated, for which probably there are a variety of technological, regulatory, business (e.g. scale considerations) and financing reasons. The revival of craft brewing, coupled with an interest in spirits, has enabled some producers to overcome the obstacles mentioned, in certain areas.


04-02-2013, 03:57
Oskar Blues announced a year ago plans to distill whiskey and package it in cans. The Party Source also plans on doing both.

04-02-2013, 04:37
Anchor Steam is another example.

04-02-2013, 05:13
Ranger Creek, Rogue, and Dogfish Head all distill.

04-02-2013, 06:08
Canned whiskey? Sounds kinda awful. Well, at least how do you reseal it?

04-02-2013, 06:28
They have a 16 oz can with a screw top that they have used for 2 collborations that were available at the brewery only. I think it's a strange concept myself.


04-02-2013, 07:09
The "whiskey for us" people should run with this idea, just make the can 8 oz bigger. Hipsters flock to tall boys.

Gentleman Racer
04-02-2013, 07:13
That Boston Globe article was interesting. It makes me think of Charbay whiskey, which claims to distill pilsner quality beer. It's good stuff, notable hops in the flavor. WAY overpriced though.

04-02-2013, 07:32
New Holland (http://newhollandbrew.com/spirits/) has been distilling for years.

04-02-2013, 07:41
Stevegoz, I get a nice "malware warning" with that New Holland link.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010
New Holland Artisan Distillery launches “Brewers’ Whiskey”

"....Fermented from 100% 2-row malted barley..."

I see the craft / small beer makers are exploring distilled spirits but historically, I don't think you see any of the large beer concerns involved in
whiskey/ bourbon production. There was no Schlitz Bourbon or Pabst Rye etc. ...at least to my knowledge. Maybe they owned separate distilling companies but the brands were not combined.

04-02-2013, 07:53
Can a man dare dream of Colt 145?

04-02-2013, 08:11
A place like this would be smart to add a bourbon:


Bluegrass Brewing Co. Louisville, KY

04-02-2013, 09:35
I have heard it said that good beer makes for bad bourbon-- in other words a distiller will be pushing his mash toward flavors that wouldn't taste particularly good to a brewer, and vice versa.

04-02-2013, 11:09
True, as from what I gather the typical whiskey mash is much less flavored than a beer profile. However, that is simply an ingredient issue. The facilities for producing both would be compatible...plus coopering and storage.

04-02-2013, 12:07
The reason is that a distillery mash generally is higher in alcohol than a beer mash (usually 9%-10% ABV). You want the maximum of alcohol in a distillery mash to maximize the ethanol yield, whereas in brewing, you want alcohol but also flavours from malt sugars and dextrins. Therefore you don't want to maximize the alcohol because it would come at the cost of body and taste in the beer. But the facilities for both kinds of mashes - setting aside considerations of scale - indeed are very similar.


04-02-2013, 12:30
I suppose a dropped shot (depth charge) Boilermaker might be the start of an experiment in "beer based whiskey" taste...
especially, if the carbonation is allowed to dissipate.

Gentleman Racer
04-03-2013, 11:10
I have heard it said that good beer makes for bad bourbon-- in other words a distiller will be pushing his mash toward flavors that wouldn't taste particularly good to a brewer, and vice versa.

Not surprising. And Gillman's subsequent explanation nailed it. Reminds me of brandy/cognac. The wine they distill is pretty much undrinkable.

04-03-2013, 19:35
The oldest of the professional brewers turned distillers are Lance Winters of St. George, followed by Fritz Maytag of Anchor, followed by the McMenamin brewpubs up in Oregon. I was also a professional brewer while we were distilling at Leopold Bros, but have focused only on distilling for some time now. Within the few shops out there that actually ferment, it's more common than is realized.

Also, whomever called micobreweries the JV was likely just being humble. You'd be hard pressed to find more technical and artistic acumen anywhere in the world than you'll find in the world of American brewing.

04-04-2013, 19:46
some states, and I believe my beloved Sooner State is one, have laws that restrict Brewers from conducting distilling on the same premises as the brewing