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2011 Blog Posts

April 9th, 2011 - Portland, OR

Just returned from Portland, OR for the 8th Annual ADI Conference. It was my first time in Portland and I loved it, good people, cool vibe, great climate. The conference itself was a fantastic experience! I got so many great ideas and met many great people in the industry, learned a lot from the presentations that varied from barrel-aging, to business software, to grain attributes; and made contact with many industry vendors. Also, I got the chance to visit quite a few area distilleries: Bull Run, McMenamins, New Deal, and Clear Creek distilleries, all producing some delicious spirits. As a connoisseur of all intoxicating beverages, I seized the opportunity to visit several local microbreweries and sample some great microbrews. One of the most surprising was Rogue Distillery and Public House. It was surprising in that they have so many different beers that don't make it this far east, so it was great to try them. Also noteworthy: Deschutes Brewery also had great beers and a really cool atmosphere with amazing wood carvings. One of the best brewpubs I found was Henry's 12th St. Tavern, because they boast a ridiculous number of great craft beers, good food, and best of all, it was just a couple blocks from my hotel! Another little thing worth mentioning is that almost all of the breweries offered samplers where you could get 4-6 4oz samples of their beers, which obviously allows you to try a greater variety!

The ADI Conference was extremely worthwhile as well. I'm glad I attended and I'm eagerly looking forward to the next one in Louisville, KY next April. During the week, I also had time to go for a great run along the beautiful riverfront area... a fantastic place for some exercise!

Overall, I had a great time in Portland. It's truly a world-class beer destination, but also home to an exciting and vibrant micro-distillery industry. I can't wait to go back!

 April 27, 2011 - Seattle, WA,

I just returned from my overnight trip to Seattle, WA to visit Woodinville Whiskey Co. I'd been in talks with them regarding their mash cooker and fermentation tanks that they are selling as they increase their production level. I had to go out there and inspect them for myself. It was a quick trip, in and out in less than 24 hours, but the tanks all seem to be in great condition and it seems like a good opportunity to pick up quality equipment without paying the brand-new price. So it looks like StilL 630 is about to buy it's first mash cooker and fermenters! Just returned from Portland, OR for the 8th Annual ADI Conference. It was my first time in Portland and I loved it, good people, cool vibe, great climate. The conference itself was a fantastic experience! I got so many great ideas and met many great people in the industry, learned a lot from the presentations that varied from barrel-aging, to business software, to grain attributes; and made contact with many industry vendors.

Also, I got the chance to visit quite a few area distilleries: Bull Run, McMenamins, New Deal, and Clear Creek distilleries, all producing some delicious spirits.

As a connoisseur of all intoxicating beverages, I seized the opportunity to visit several local microbreweries and sample some great microbrews. One of the most surprising was Rogue Distillery and Public House. It was surprising in that they have so many different beers that don't make it this far east, so it was great to try them. Also noteworthy:

Deschutes Brewery also had great beers and a really cool atmosphere with amazing wood carvings. One of the best brewpubs I found was Henry's 12th St. Tavern, because they boast a ridiculous number of great craft beers, good food, and best of all, it was just a couple blocks from my hotel! Another little thing worth mentioning is that almost all of the breweries offered samplers where you could get 4-6 4oz samples of their beers, which obviously allows you to try a greater variety!

The ADI Conference was extremely worthwhile as well. I'm glad I attended and I'm eagerly looking forward to the next one in Louisville, KY next April. During the week, I also had time to go for a great run along the beautiful riverfront area... a fantastic place for some exercise!

Overall, I had a great time in Portland. It's truly a world-class beer destination, but also home to an exciting and vibrant micro-distillery industry. I can't wait to go back!

 

May 14, 2011 - Woodinville Whiskey Co.

I just got back from Seattle, WA, and if you've never been to the Pacific Northwest, it's an absolutely beautiful part of the country! You should definitely visit if you ever have the chance. I was out there on business, of course, apprenticing at Woodinville Whiskey Co. (who's making some really great stuff!). I was there for a week, and I'm grateful to my good friend Ben Pippenger, who lives in Seattle, for letting me stay with him. Right now, they make a vodka (Peabody) and a white dog (Headlong) and are in the process of aging their bourbon. I tend to prefer darker spirits rather than vodka and gin, but their Peabody vodka is quite good. I love the re-emergence of the white dog spirit, and their Headlong is one of the best I've tasted. They've set the bar quite high!

Woodinville Whiskey Co. is a great operation and Orlin & Brett, the two owners, are great guys whom I really enjoyed working with. I've attended a lot of training and have done my own voracious reading about distillation techniques and methods, but there's nothing like jumping in and physically doing it yourself.

During my week, I got a veritable crash course in running a micro-distillery. I did everything from helping make cuts to cleaning tanks to bottling and everything in between. It was a tremendous experience and I can't thank Brett and Orlin enough for their hospitality and willingness to open their doors to me and field my endless questions. They are good men, and I hope to continue our relationship for years to come!

 

 

Jun 8, 2011 - American Whiskey Workshop

I attended a workshop about American Whiskey held by Koval at their distillery in Chicago. It was very informative regarding the history of American whiskey and some of the great varieties out there. We were able to sample some great whiskeys, but some of the best spirits we tried were from Koval itself. They produce a slew of handcrafted spirits and liqueurs... over 25 varieties! Check out their products when you get the chance... you'll be glad you did.

 

July 8, 2011 - STILL 630, an update

As STILL 630 embarks on the beginnings of it's journey, we've hit many milestones already. • STILL 630 is officially an LLC.

• 4 fermenters and 1 mash tank are on their way all the way from Seattle, Washington! They should arrive later this week or early next week. Unfortunately they will go into storage for now, because STILL 630 does not yet have a location.

• However, the search for the perfect space is well under way. Many areas of St. Louis are under consideration; including The Central West End, The Grove, Washington Avenue, Locust Creative District, Soulard and Maplewood. Each "neighborhood" emits a slightly differnet vibe and we would like to be in the perfect place for STILL 630. On Thursday we will be visiting specific properties to assess, inspect and evaluate them.

Another important element is the logo. It serves as the first interaction customers will have with our company, so we want to get that just right, too. (Do you see a theme developing?!) As the logo is being developed by the talented artist, Dina Right, the vision for STILL 630 is evolving and becoming more narrow and focused. Each logo portrays a different vision and we are looking for the right emotion to be evoked upon view.

• The last and most important detail is the actual still is in the process of being ordered.

  • Lots of exciting stuff going on! We can't wait to share more as we continue to check things off the list.

 

Aug 12, 2011 - Logos!

We just met with Dina Right of DrawCreative and she showed us six different potential logo designs, all of which were great! They are all very professional and extremely well done, and they all contain different ideas and aspects. As I write, they are all taped to the back of the couch so I can view them simultaneously... Now comes the difficulty of identifying the one right logo that best captures the spirit of StilL 630!

Aug 18, 2011

Location, Location, Location

We toured more potential properties today, however, most, if not all, are destined to have the honor of being "Once Considered as the Initial Location for StilL 630!" Most of the buildings we visited were quite unique and had interesting potential, but were unfortunately lacking in one or two key elements such as loading dock, forklift access or ceiling height. It was easy to envision a grand plan of renovation to turn a couple of them into awesome locations, but the renovations required are well outside of our humble budget.

A couple of the locations really stood out to me... one of them is a really cool old-school brick building that's part of an historic brewery complex, and the other is located in a major retail corridor with a neat interior containing an old bank gate, filing cabinets, and operational safe. Both are very promising locations and it's exciting to be in these spaces envisioning the future!

Aug 24, 2011 - Boilers!

Another piece of the puzzle arrives. We finally took possession of the boilers and hot water tank today! Distillery friend Mark brought them in on his flat bed and we hoisted them off with a crane. We're proud to say that they were in service in a Missouri elementary school for 10 years. The school is now upgrading and we're more than happy to help re-use them. It's always good to find new uses for old things... that's something we really believe in at StilL 630 and one of the many ways we're doing our part to take care of the world for future generations. The boilers seem to be in good shape. They run about a 1,000,000 BTUs apiece, so they should be great for running the cooker and still. I guess it's time to "Boiler Up!" as our friends from Purdue would say!

Unfortunately, our shipment of mash cooker and fermentation tanks missed a weight station somewhere along the way and is now delayed until tomorrow, which screws up my plans to visit more properties. Two steps forward, one step back...

Aug 25, 2011 - Tanks!

What a headache. Finally, the tanks have arrived! I negotiated their purchase back in April and after a couple delays (with WWCo waiting on their replacement tanks) they've finally arrived. But unfortunately a couple of the fermenters broke through their pallets and knocked into each other, causing some denting and damage. I guess it could've been much worse, and I'm sure there'll be bigger problems on the road ahead, so I'm just glad to have them finally safe and sound in my possession! But of course it wasn't quite that easy. I had to play a game of telephone to find the new tenants of my sub-leased storage space to come over and open up the warehouse. Then we had to use a forklift to very slowly move the tanks, one at a time, over 200 yards from receiving dock to storage space. The whole process took around 4.5 hours... but it's done! And I have to thank Hank from Pohlman Inc. for taking the time out of his busy day to help me do it. Much appreciated sir!

Sep 6, 2011 - SLDC

I had a meeting with Pat Bannister and Erica Henderson of the St. Louis Development Corporation today. The SLDC is an organization that works to help businesses in St. Louis apply for funding to get the business off the ground. They help sift through the grants, loans, and tax credits available to identify the best strategy for each specific company. They are good people looking to help nurture and promote local businesses. I'm looking forward to working with them in the future.

Sep 14, 2011 - OFFICIAL LOGO REVEALED!

StilL 630 has an official logo! After weeks of debate and staring at pictures taped up to the back of our couch, we've finally selected our logo! We can't speak highly enough of Dina Right and her husband Mike (their company DrawCreative) and all the hard work they put in working on our project. However, we must admit that they really made our job of selecting a logo extremely difficult!

They came up with several fantastic designs that all would've been great. In the end we were able to whittle it down to the top three contenders, and when they came back with the color versions, one in particular leaped off the page. As soon as we saw it, we knew we were looking at the official logo for StilL 630! It's a perfect representation of our vision: passionately handcrafted, old-fashioned whiskey for the modern age.

We hope that you love it as much as we do! So, without further ado...

We plan on saving the other designs as well, so keep your eyes peeled and maybe you'll spot some of them popping up from time to time!

Sep 24, 2011 - A New Contender Emerges…

We've gone out several times with our realtor Mark to view potential properties. Most ruled themselves out due to the usual various reasons, but one in particular stands out...A Quonset hut style building with signage opportunity off a major thoroughfare. We'll see how this plays out, but it appears to be a strong candidate...

Sep 28, 2011 - Independent Spirits Expo

I traveled up to Chicago to attend the 2011 Independent Spirits Expo - a great gathering of some of the best distillers around - and I highly recommend attending if you can. It travels to different cities throughout the year, so it might be held near you at some point. I was joined by my good friend Colin Joliat, a fellow connoisseur and a great writer (check out some of his humorous writings: http://guyism.com/author/colinjoliat). We attended the industry roundtable discussion in the afternoon, which was very interesting and informative. However, the best part was the sampling of their wares. There are a lot of people out there making some damn good spirits. It's very exciting that we'll soon be joining their ranks!

Oct 10, 2011 - Beer & Solar

Sidni and I just returned home from a great evening at the Beer & Solar event co-hosted by StraightUp Solar at The Civil Life Brewing Company. Jake Hafner & co. have done a great job over there and make some fine beers, plus they have a neat facility with a great outdoor beer garden, we'll definitely be back on beautiful days!. StraightUp Solar, based right here in St. Louis, is one of the regional leaders in solar technology. They installed solar panels on the roof to provide green energy to power the brewery and they gave a presentation about that process as well as solar power in general.

Being environmentally conscious as we are, it's very exciting to see the developments and increasing utilization of solar power by individuals and companies across the United States. Crucial to renewable solar energy's continued growth, solar power has become a smart financial decision in addition to being an ethically responsible one.

Part of our vision for StilL 630 is to utilize as much renewable energy as possible in our business. Knowing that we can actually lower costs while doing so makes it even more appealing. We hope that this trend continues to grow and that we can one day be a small part of the bright future of renewable energy!

Oct 21, 2011 - A Second Look

Went to revisit a couple properties that were appealing and, this time, brought Sidni along. The Quonset hut building is looking very attractive. Plus, it received Sidni's seal of approval... so it must be good! Sometimes it's dangerous to get ahead of yourself, but with this building it's easy to envision StilL 630 there. On the way home Sidni and I were discussing all kinds of great ideas to truly make it our home! Now we send a proposal to the landlord and see if we can find an agreeable common ground...

Oct 25, 2011 - Still Commissioned!

A momentous day for StilL 630, we've commissioned our still! Much like our spirits to come, it's going to be built by hand right here in Missouri by master craftsman Jim Schultz (of Metal Fabrication Designs, LLC). We're very excited because Jim's known for his high quality work and attention to detail. If it's made of metal, there isn't anything Jim can't do! Plus, he's become a good friend of ours and it's always exciting when friends and family get involved with the business. Our still is going to have a capacity of 200 gallons and the ability to be run as a simple pot still for our rums or we can activate a column with bubble caps for further refining our spirits. We can't wait to get it in place and start it running!

Nov 3, 2011 - Let the Logistical Hoop Jumping Begin!

We've been working with Brett Pernikoff of Pernikoff Construction Company on detailing the building systems and trying to figure out the cost of construction work we'll need to bring the facility up to our standards. Brett is just a heck of a nice guy and he's been a great help contacting local city officials and inspectors while helping ascertain exactly what we'll need to meet various codes, who we'll need to sign off on what, and generally putting together preliminary costs. It's exciting that we're finally and actually getting into the logistics of our location!

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