Monday, June 29, 2015

Look for more moonshine.

I’m sure you all have noticed the (sometimes) overwhelming selection of “Moon shine” at your local bottle stores lately.

First of all, I hate this term! Like I’ve preached several times before, words mean things! “Moonshine” is illegal, white whiskey made without Uncle Sam’s approval.

The jars you see in stores are white, unaged whiskey. Often times this type of liquor is called “white dog.” But it is not, at least in my mind, moonshine.

This type of whiskey is cheap, easy and fast for the distillers to crank out because there is no aging time. They simply go from still to bottle to store.

Bourbon is aged for a minimum of two-years in new barrels made from white oak. Kentucky Whiskey is also aged in NEW oak barrels which are essentially hand-made by craftsmen and use only fine white oak.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal estimated that Bourbon sales are up 35 percent since 2010, and the harvesting of the white oak has been severely abbreviated. You guessed it... That means there is a shortage of barrels.

Overall, that’s an excellent thing for the spirits industry, and a great opportunity for brewers looking to age beer in oak. The “One and done” life cycle of Bourbon sales provides ample wood for brewing.

Other distilled spirits such as rum can be aged in used barrels and they are likely to an increase in their supply chain in the years to come.  Some distillery have increased production as much as 50% to try to keep up with future demands.

As this all comes back to the white dog, if a distiller only receives half of his order of barrels from the cooperage, I’m willing to bet the other half of the production run will end up on store shelves labeled as “Moonshine!”

As you might expect from craft distillers and the long term success of older distillers, the quality of some of these white whiskeys on the market is very good, often time the same distillate that is used for their flagship brands.

If you have a favorite white whiskey, we would love to hear about it!

Have a great week friends,

Friday, June 26, 2015

Age your hooch?

There are things that make us laugh out loud... Heck, that’s what LOL stands for! There are things that are simply amusing and make us smile for a few seconds then we move on... Insert Facebook Meme. There are things that bring us simple joys like a well prepared adult beverage or a cigar, and there are things that bring lasting joy to our lives, like family, friends and travel.

I think the marketing industry is taking advantage of some of our “Joy Button” moments and push them a few times too many over the course of a year!

One of the most interesting trends of late has got to be the home aging of spirits. This is where a distillery will sell you a liter of their “White Dog” whiskey (worth no more than a $10 bill) and an aging barrel (Worth $30) for the low low price of nearly $100. You take the bottle home, dump it into the barrel and take a snort every few days to see how it is coming along. After a few weeks (or days) your barrel is empty, and after convincing yourself that it was just getting good, you head back to grab another bottle for a second try!

As a guy with a burning desire to “Create” things, I have almost fallen into this trap many times. I have had several oak barrels in my life, mostly for aging beer, but a few have had wine and a few have had spirits... None have been as orgasmic as I had hoped. I will also say that none have been as effective as a handful of oak cubes from the brew supply store. 

One thing that a friend of mine, who has forgotten more about spirits than I’ll ever know, tells me, is that spirits don’t extract properly at lower proof (Percent alcohol).

We know damn good and well that an 80-proof spirit can blow the top off of your head if it isn’t properly cared for, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to do a good job of extracting the essence of your vanilla beans or the goods from an oak barrel.
Production spirits are aged at a very high proof to mellow and extract flavors in the commercial world, why would they act any differently in your home?

I am not saying that it does no good to age an 80-proof spirit on wood, far from it. We know that a 10% beer or a 12% wine can become amazing from its time on oak. But to market as if you are going to turn white “hooch” into fine spirits in your living room is almost laughable, yet it does give a lot of people a hands-on experience that could help them understand the world of aging spirits.

I would LOVE to see a few companies producing a high-proof “white dog” for aging. Some rum companies make an “Overproof” Rum or 151, as some call it. I would say this is a severely under-served market, and would give my right arm for a few new ones to hit the market.... HELLO Hemingway Rum Company.....

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Big Solution to canning craft beer.

I guess that not everyone is following, so I thought I'd share this article by Andy  Sparkawk.
As always, Alaskans find a way to survive! Check it out!

Alaska’s HooDoo Brewing Finds Big Solution to Small Problem

By Andy Sparhawk
It’s summer—the best time of year to get outside. As craft beer enthusiasts though, we want to take our favorite craft beers with us. Unfortunately—but with good reason—many outdoor destinations do not allow glass. And for those of us who seek out the less traveled areas of the world, weight plays a big factor into how much beer you’re able to pack. In a state as ruggedly beautiful as Alaska, it makes sense that Fairbanks’ HooDoo Brewing Co. recently decided to can their German-style Kolsch.

“We are pleased to announce that our German K├Âlsch will now be available in cans, our first canned offering!” Hoodoo reported in their blog post “HooDoo Brewing Co. Brings Its Craft To Cans.”
Brewmaster and Owner Bobby Wilken is looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy his beer deep within the Alaskan wilderness, “I actually get goosebumps thinking about being in the middle of nowhere, up river, with a super fresh beer in my hand.”

Though aluminum packaging will aid Bobby in keeping his pack weight down, as well as the transportation costs to ship the lighter cans, the expense of simply purchasing the cans is the largest obstacle, not only for HooDoo, but for any small brewer looking to offer cans.

Read more HERE at

The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series