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  • December 19, 2019 9:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Forbes - Tara Nurin

    Congress gave distillers a reprieve Thursday by voting to extend critical tax breaks to the spirits industry for one year. By passing one of two remaining spending packages by a vote of 71-23, senators affirmed a vote their House colleagues took Tuesday to let the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2019 (CBMTRA) contained within it sunset on December 31, 2020, instead of at the end of this year as previously determined by the passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. It headed to the president’s desk Thursday for his expected signature Friday.

    For Scott Harris, co-founder of the ten-year-old Catoctin Creek Distillery in Northern Virginia, failure to pass FET reform would have meant potentially reducing employees and shifts in production. Now, he plans to add equipment and 1.5 to 2 sales positions this year.

    “With it now,” he says, “we are able to keep going full steam ahead.”

    “We are so delighted that the FET relief was included in the appropriations bill,” adds his wife and head distiller, Becky Harris. “Making this relief permanent is our next priority so we can plan with more confidence every year.” 

    In an unprecedented show of solidarity between the spirits, beer, wine and cider industries, together with their raw material suppliers, six trade representative trade associations have worked together for the past several years to lobby Congress for federal excise tax (FET) relief. They won their first major battle in December 2017 when Congress voted to implement their requested reduction for two years. This year, they hoped to make the changes permanent but will have to settle for what they got, for now.

    “It has been a long, hard fight for this one-year FET extension, a critical relief that will protect our industry in the near-term, and we look forward to working towards FET relief permanence as together we protect the future success of craft spirits and the peripheral industries we support,” says Margie Lehrman, CEO of the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), which represents the nation’s 2,000 small, independent distillers.

    With taxes set to revert to their pre-2018 levels if this hadn’t passed, most of the nation’s small distillers faced what would have amounted to a 400% federal increase. Though brewers and winemakers would have also suffered grievously, distillers pay a far higher tax rate than the others. Not only is this the ACSA’s top ongoing legislative priority, its executives warned in statements earlier this week, “These numbers are grave, and the threat is real and imminent.”

    The numbers they reference come from a poll of 100 ACSA members taken before the vote. In their words:  

    ·      100% of craft distillers report that the tax hike will negatively impact their small businesses.

    ·      More than 50% of craft distillers will take action to immediately cut jobs.

    ·      15% of craft distillers will cut production.

    ·      12% of craft distillers will halt any expansion efforts.

    ·      13% of craft distillers will increase pricing.

    ·      11% will cancel or stop negotiating equipment purchases.

    ·      5% will cut grain purchases, creating a direct impact on U.S. agriculture.

    ·      5% will close their operations altogether.

    Says Ryan Perry, master blender for Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door line of whiskeys, “With our brand built in part on collaborations with smaller brands, anything that helps the industry grow is a positive. Everyone will capitalize on the reduction in a way that allows them to put money into interesting and cool things.”

    Perry and Dylan have based their brand in Tennessee. Next door, Virginia boasts an extremely proactive industry association that arguably works harder than most to promote the commonwealth’s whiskey history, along with its 70 craft distilleries.

    Says Virginia Distillers Association (VDA) executive director Amy Ciarametaro:

    “Tax reform uncertainty is the single greatest threat faced by American craft distillers. It’s been an emotional whirlwind, continually asking Congress to support FET reform since the original passage in 2017 and now the pending one-year tax extenders package. While we are grateful for the one-year extension, it continues to be an interim fix.”

    Despite ranking 46th in the nation for spirits consumption in 2016, Virginia’s distillers contributed $163 million in economic impact to the commonwealth in 2018 and anticipate spending $86 million on capital investments by 2021. Yet even before factoring in federal taxes, the state’s distillers net a mere $4-$7 per $30 bottle sold. FET uncertainty has created what Ciarametaro calls “an industry-wide bottleneck” because distillers can’t accurately budget for the future.

    “Our industry is abnormally capital intensive; couple that with state-by-state regulations that severely impact the economics and then compound that with the highest federal tax rates across the various beverage sectors. If the tax rate reverts back to pre-2017 reform, or $13.50 per proof gallon, that’s an additional expense of approximately $3/bottle in expenses. That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for additional expenses to support employees, capital investments, brand development, etc.,” she emails.

    Both of Virginia’s (Democratic) senators voted to pass the bill, as did all seven Democratic congressional representatives. The commonwealth’s four Republican representatives voted no, however CMBTRA’s inclusion in a much larger tax package makes it inaccurate to gauge a lawmaker’s support based on his or her vote. In fact, all three Republican co-sponsors (of the seven total from across party lines) voted no, and all but one of the representatives who didn’t co-sponsor voted yes. The lone nay-sayer comes from within Republican party ranks; the rest are Democrats. Neither senator co-sponsored.

    According to Ciarametaro, some members of Virginia’s delegation opposed CMBTRA because they mistakenly believe it almost exclusively benefits multi-national distillers rather than independent American ones. The Brookings Institution is among those making this case in an argument against giving tax breaks to foreign importers and large U.S. producers that don’t need it.

    In a lengthy web article entitled, “How to close the loopholes in the Craft Beverage Modernization Act,” the author writes, “According to estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation, updated to reflect what they’ve learned from the tax cut’s first-year impacts, most of the $1.2 billion cost of a one-year extension of the bill is associated with producers of distilled spirits who use this loophole, rather than true craft distillers.”

    He describes this loophole as one that “allows large producers of distilled spirits to ship their product tax free through smaller firms, importers, or even shell company intermediaries, allowing them to claim the lower tax rate that was supposed to be reserved for small, craft businesses.”

    He points to distilleries that legally buy and blend and/or bottle product from others while branding them as their own. The sticking point comes as a result of the act’s three-tiered approach to the tax cuts, which assesses distillers at $2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 to leave the production site or warehouse, and $13.34 per proof gallon on the first 22,130,000 after that. Anything over 22,130,000 proof gallons gets taxed at the pre-2018 rate of $13.50.

    Brookings advocates several alternatives, including lowering the first-tier ceiling to 10,000 proof gallons instead of 100,000. But what the think tank doesn’t take into account is that the bill likely wouldn’t have passed in the first place if it weren’t for these specific numbers, which might be viewed as a necessary evil that convinced large spirits corporations to compromise and join ranks with their smaller peers in getting behind just one tax reform bill rather than diffusing their power into multiple ones.

    Plus, according to ACSA, 92% of craft spirits producers remove 10,000 proof gallons from bond annually, and just two percent remove more than 100,000. So while large-scale producers do benefit enormously from the tiered structure, almost every craft producer gets to take advantage of it as well.

    In Virginia, 69 of 70 distilleries fall entirely below the 100,000 level.

    “Having worked with Virginia distillers for some time now, I hear and see the economic pains they face on a continual basis,” says Ciarametaro. “They’re not running out and buying yachts as a result of tax reform.”

  • October 31, 2019 2:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We are please to present the November 2019 TDSA Newsletter. Inside you will read:

    • Legislative Update
    • November Election Information
    • Federal Update - CBMTRA & USMCA
    • Spirits United
    • HB 1997 Implementation
    • October 2019 Principal Member Meeting Recap
    • New Member Welcome
    • Winter Social & Prospective Member Reception


  • October 15, 2019 2:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON –  The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), America’s leading advocate for the distilled spirits industry, today announced that the Texas Distilled Spirits Association (TDSA) and the Texas Whiskey Association (TXWA) have joined Spirits United as partners to expand the grassroots network in the Lone Star State.

    The Spirits United platform features important information on key issues facing the spirits industry, hospitality professionals and consumers, and provides advocates with an easy-to-use website to weigh in on issues that matter to them. DISCUS launched the platform in August with founding partners American Distilling Institute and TIPS.

    “We are thrilled to have TDSA and TXWA join DISCUS, ADI and TIPS as Spirits United partners. Texas is a vital market for small and large distillers. Both organizations have a critical role in advocating for the distilled spirits industry in the Texas State Legislature, and they will be valued partners as we work together on market modernization opportunities for the industry in the state,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO, DISCUS and Responsibility.org.

    “The distilled spirits industry is a major contributor to the Texas economy.  We support more than 82,000 jobs and make a $7.5 billion impact on the state’s gross domestic product,” said Swonger. “We invite all Texas adults who are passionate about spirits to join Spirits United, including distillers, supply chain partners, bartenders, mixologists and consumers. We need everyone’s participation to pursue a competitive and free market to benefit consumers and businesses in Texas.”

    “Spirits United is an exciting new way to mobilize advocates for the distilled spirits industry in Texas, and we look forward to partnering with our industry colleagues on this innovative initiative,” said TDSA President Mike Cameron. “Expanding this grassroots network in Texas will help our distillers grow and bring adult consumers more convenient access to their favorite distilled spirits products, many of which are made proudly right here in the Lone Star State.”

    “In Texas, we have a great amount of pride for the whiskey we produce,” said TXWA Executive Director Spencer Whelan. “We are excited to join Spirits United to harness that pride and turn it into action on issues like the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act and market modernization in our state. Texans are brought up with a spirit for freedom, and we are the best and most passionate advocates for this industry.

    Spirits United Continues to Mobilize Support for Craft Beverage Bill

    Spirits United  already has begun mobilizing advocates in support of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (H.R. 1175/ S. 362), legislation making permanent the federal excise tax cut on distilled spirits that was enacted in 2017.  Without congressional approval, the tax cut will expire on December 31, 2019.  Using the Spirits United platform, advocates are actively sending letters to their members of Congress urging passage of the legislation.

    “We urge Congress to act as soon as possible on the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act to ensure that distillers in Texas and across the nation can continue to invest in their businesses, hire more employees and boost tourism and economic development,” said Swonger. “Through Spirits United, we are working to get as many letters, social media interactions and phone calls to Congress as possible in support of this bill.”

    Commitment to Responsibility

    A strong commitment to responsibility is the foundation of Spirits United. Through Spirits United’s social media content and information on its site, spirits advocates will be encouraged to join industry efforts to prevent underage drinking and drunk driving and to promote the responsible consumption of beverage alcohol.

    -30-

    Join Spirits United

    Spirits United is an inclusive community for anyone and everyone over the age of 21. To join Spirits United, please click here. Spirits United is also on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.  Watch “I am Spirits United” here.

    About the Texas Distilled Spirits Association

    The mission of TDSA is to grow the market for Texas spirits through education, marketing and regulatory influence.

    About the Texas Whiskey Association

    The Texas Whiskey Association is established by a group of whiskey makers with the common goal to promote Texas Whiskey, educate consumers and support distilleries that produce whiskey all within the territorial boundaries of the State of Texas.

     

    Contact

    DISCUS Public Affairs

    (202) 682-8840

    Ainsley Holyfield

    (240) 232‑8108

    ainsley.holyfield@distilledspirits.org

    Stefanie Scott

    (512) 784-8833

    stefanie@stefscottpr.com


  • October 15, 2019 8:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today, we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Spirits United Texas, along with the Texas Whiskey Association.

    As you know, craft distillers in Texas play a unique and powerful role in the distilled spirits industry by creating diversity, excitement, and increasing the spirits consumer base. Craft distillers attract visitors with their specialized spirits and create jobs, thereby increasing tourism and enhancing the economy in their local communities. The distilled spirits industry would not be as strong and vibrant as it is today without Texas craft distillers like you.

    However, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and at the Texas Legislature in Austin, laws are enacted and kept in place that can have an impact on your business, like bans on Sunday Sales and punitive federal excise taxes. 

    Here’s the good news: you have the power to change these laws. You can educate our lawmakers on how these laws harm us and the best policies to ensure you can succeed – and now you have the tool to do so! TDSA is proud partner with Spirits United Texas, with special thanks to Responsibility.org.

    Spirits United Texas is a community of advocates united to harness the great pride and political equity within the industry to ensure adult consumers can enjoy distilled spirits where they want, how they want, and when they want. At Spirits United, you will be able to send PRE-DRAFTED letters and tweets, as well as make phone calls, to your elected officials on the various issues that impact your business. It’s simple and takes less than five minutes to do.

    Craft distillers are a critically important and powerful part of that community. Your strong, collective voice should be heard by elected officials to ensure your business is well represented at all levels of government!

    Join Spirits United TODAY by visiting SpiritsUnitedTexas.org.


  • September 16, 2019 9:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    BENDT Distilling Co Launches BENDT No. 5 American Blended Whiskey

    Launch Party Includes Craft Cocktails, BBQ and Live Music

     

    What: BENDT Distilling Co. will host a launch party on September 21st for the introduction of BENDT No. 5 American Blended Whiskey – the first-ever blend of five distinct small batch Texas whiskeys (Bourbon, Rye, Malt, Wheat, Light) distilled, aged individually and blended together under one roof in Lewisville, Texas

     

    The family-friendly event is free to the public and will include the following:

    ·       BENDT No. 5 craft cocktail menu, samples and snow cones

    ·       Custom hand-etched bottle engraving by Air Style Art

    ·       Live music from Hightower Band and Denver Williams Band

    ·       BBQ by Chasin Tail BBQ

    ·       Behind-the-scenes whiskey production tours (21+)

    ·       Photobooth by Smile for the Camper + Texas Photobooth Company

     

    Who: Co-Founders Ryan and Natasha DeHart will raise a glass to celebrate the launch of new BENDT No. 5 – a smooth, perfectly balanced blended whiskey that captures the essence of each whiskeys finest characteristics

     

    Why: BENDT No. 5 is perfect for diverse whiskey drinkers seeking a smooth, flavorful and balanced blend of hand-crafted whiskeys. As one of the few female distillery founders and whiskey blenders in the U.S., Natasha DeHart is elevating the category of blended whiskey beyond neutral or artificially flavored whiskey-based spirits. BENDT No. 5 American Blended Whiskey is all grain, all whiskey

     

    When:              Saturday, September 21, 2019

                                1:00PM – 9:00PM 

     

    Where:               BENDT Distilling Co (formerly Witherspoon Distillery)

                                225 S. Charles Street

                                Lewisville, TX 75057

    Instagram:         @bendtno5

     

    Contact:             David Abrams, StuntmanPR

                                 david@stuntmanpr.com, 201-993-8426 (mobile)


  • August 27, 2019 11:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As you may be aware, one of the most important pieces of federal legislation for our industry is currently being proposed in DC.  The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (HR 117/S.362) will make permanent a federal excise tax of $2.70 per proof gallon.  If this legislation is not passed, the federal excise tax will increase 400% to $13.50 per proof gallon.  Members of Congress return to Washington DC on September 1st.  Now is the perfect time for you to send a letter to your member of Congress and US Senators explaining the importance of passing the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. 


    Click here for a sample letter
     
    for you to use when contacting your member of Congress.  We also ask you to send letters to both US Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.  Here is a list of addresses for the Texas federal delegation You may use this website to help you find your member of Congress:  https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.


    TDSA also sent a separate letter to each member of Congress and US Senator urging the importance of this legislation.  If you have any questions or concerns on how to contact your federal representative, please call Amber at 512-617-4523 or email her at
    ahausenfluck@mwcllc.com.

  • July 15, 2019 10:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    INDUSTRY NOTICE

    July 15, 2019

    Excise Tax Enforcement – Summary Suspension of License/Permit

    To: Holders of a manufacturer’s license, brewer’s permit, winery permit, distillers and rectifier’s permit, distributor’s license, wholesaler's permit, general class B wholesaler's permit, or brewpub license.

    On September 1, 2019, TABC will begin actively enforcing existing laws that suspend a licensed/permitted business’s ability to operate while that business is delinquent on its excise tax payments or reports. This action is necessary to address a growing number of excise tax delinquencies and to ensure future compliance.


    The Law

    Certain license/permit holders in the manufacturing and distributing tiers of the alcoholic beverage industry are statutorily required to make monthly excise tax payments on the “first sale” of certain alcoholic beverages (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Chapters 201 and 203). These licensees/permittees must also submit monthly excise tax reports to TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §§ 201.06, 201.48, and 203.10).


    Summary Suspension Process

    TABC will initiate a process to summarily suspend a license/permit if the holder is delinquent oh excise tax payments and/or has unfiled excise tax reports, or defaults on an executed agreement to repay delinquent taxes (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, §§ 201.075, 201.53, and 203.13). If a licensee/permittee remains delinquent or in default after initial notifications from TABC:

    • TABC issues an Order of Summary Suspension to the licensee/permittee.
    • Licensee/permittee has 3 days to cure all deficiencies cited in the Order.
    • If the licensee/permittee has not cured all such deficiencies on the 3rd day after receiving the Order, TABC will suspend the license/permit without a hearing.
    • TABC will lift the suspension only when the licensee/permittee submits all reports and tax payments that are due.

    Follow These Steps to Keep Your Business in Compliance

    • Excise tax reports and taxes are due and payable on the 15th of the month.
    • Excise tax reports are due even if no taxes are due.
    • TABC grants a 2% discount on the taxes due if the report and payment are submitted before the 15th of the month.


    If you have any questions or need assistance, you may contact TABC in writing at P.O. Box 13127, Austin, TX 78711, Audit & Investigations at 512-206-3300, or by e-mail at excisetaxsummarysuspension@tabc.texas.gov.

  • June 21, 2019 3:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Fort Worth Business Press

    BLK EYE will have the official bottle release party for its BLK EYE Spirit Number 5 on Saturday June 22 from 2pm till 9pm. Bottle Sales, Limit two per person. $45.00 per bottle. Get Free Tickets - reserve your Saturday spot on our Facebook Event Page. If there is a line, all ticketed fans will be given priority entrance at the distillery.

    Since his new specialty distilled beverage was first barreled in 2017, Todd Gregory has been looking forward to the day it would make its debut.

    That would be Saturday June 22 when BLK EYE Distilling Co. scheduled a release party to celebrating the launch of BLK EYE Spirit Number 5, made with black-eyed peas and corn.

    Because black-eyed peas are not a grain, the new product can’t be called whiskey, explained Gregory, co-owner of BlackEyed Distilling Co., which produces award-winning BLK EYE Vodka and a whiskey in a converted historic firehouse in Fort Worth’s Near Southside.

    “But it looks like whiskey, it smells like whiskey and it tastes like whiskey,” said Gregory. “In fact, we think it is one of the best things we have tasted in a long while.”

    Gregory has plenty to be proud of with this new unique new product that has been aging in heavy-charred American oak barrels for more than 24 months. The yield is 598 bottles of a spirit that is 46 percent alcohol and 92 proof.

    But Gregory was hoping that he would have more to toast at the party than his new spirit.

    He had hoped that the Texas Legislature would have given and other craft distillers in the state a break from archaic liquor laws that are making it hard for them to grow their businesses.

    Of the 100-plus alcohol bills that were introduced this past legislative session, only one priority bill of craft distillers made it into law.

    That legislation, known as “sampling of product,” was co-sponsored by GOP state Sen. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills and GOP state Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth. It allows a distiller to directly offer product samples to a retailer, restaurant or hotel without the presence of a wholesaler.

    The top priority bills for craft brewers though died without a vote.

    The “bottle bill” would have been a huge boon to the craft distilling industry by raising the limit on the number of bottles distillers could sell from their distilleries.

    The current law restricts distillers to selling two bottles per person a month from distilleries, up to a limit of 3,500 gallons per year.

    The Texas Distilled Spirits Association, a trade group of craft distillers, has pushed unsuccessfully since the 2015 legislative session to allow distillers to sell two bottles of each product – instead of two bottles in total – that they manufacture within a month.

    “We have never asked to raise the 3,500-gallon limit,” said Mike Cameron, president of the distiller spirits association. “Most of our distilleries don’t get close to reaching that limit and this would give them the opportunity to do that.”

    Some of the smallest among the 140 permitted distilleries and approximately 100 active operators don’t have tasting rooms to introduce their products to the public, Cameron said. In those cases, customers who stop by those distilleries have to buy without tasting.

    Further crippling small operators, wholesalers select a limited number of products such as key lime rum from producers for display on liquor store shelves, he said.

    “They have no way to market their products,” Cameron said. “We suspect that a lot of them will be out of business by the time of the next (legislative) session in 2021.”

    The other top priority bill that failed would have allowed distillers to sell their products at festivals and events similar to the rights given to wineries.

    That would have been another marketing opportunity for struggling operators.

    Craft beer brewers, who faced similar struggles without ability to sell beer to-go from their breweries, finally prevailed after multiple repeated attempts to lift the ban on to-go sales. Beer to-go from breweries will become legal in Texas on Sept. 1

    Craft distillers faced opposition from two powerful lobby groups, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Texas, representing distributors, and the Texas Package Store Association.

    The retailers group has strongly opposed a legislation that would impact the three-tier system, which is the foundation of Texas alcoholic beverage laws.

    In a statement regarding direct sales to consumers, the package store group said direct sales pose a safety risk to consumers.

    “The direct consumer sales make the consumer vulnerable to potentially unsafe or tainted alcohol,” the group said. “The single stream system used in markets such as Europe, India and Mexico have no checks and balances to ensure the products are safe to consumer and that tainted alcohol can be tracked back to the source.”

    The group also said that the three-tier system provides “checks and balances in the way that alcohol is distributed and sold.”

    Craft distilling has come a long way in Texas during the past five years and now ranks as the third largest in the country behind California and Florida, according to the craft distilled spirits organization, which is undertaking an economic impact study to determine its value and worth to the Texas economy.

    For Gregory, who is adding his fifth product to his lineup, the failure of the festivals and bottle bills “stifles my ability to grow and market my products.”

    With the rapid growth of the craft distilling industry in Texas, producers are challenged more than ever to find adequate liquor store shelf space to build their brands, Gregory said.

    And, that is ironic.

    “If any manufacturing industry came to our state and offered to build in excess of 100 factories, the economic support would be overwhelming from all state and local leaders,” Gregory said.

    “Guess what, we are already here, but struggling with laws created in 1933 that did not forecast the craft distillery movement and anticipate supporting the local manufacture of alcohol in Texas,” he added.

  • June 14, 2019 9:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    STUDIO 512

    It’s Woman Crush Wednesday and we were so happy to have our woman crush in-studio with us! Samantha Olvera is the first woman to distill bourbon from grain to glass in Texas, and she came over from Hye to talk to us about how she got started in this majority-male business.

    Samantha is currently Nighttime Distiller at Garrison Brothers Distillery, the first corn-to-cork bourbon distillery in America opened outside of Kentucky, and the first legal whiskey distillery in Texas.
    She recently spearheaded a successful effort to bring a branch of the Bourbon Women Association to Texas. Learn more about that organization at www.bourbonwomen.org.

    Samantha is obviously partial to bourbon — but it’s especially easy to celebrate on National Bourbon Day, which is June 14th!

    To learn more about where Samantha works, Garrison Brothers Distillery, check them out in person in Hye in the Hill Country. For more information about their whiskey, go to www.garrisonbros.com, or follow them on social media, @GarrisonBros.

    Watch Studio 512  Monday through Friday on The CW Austin at 7 a.m.- 9 a.m. (Channel 54.1) & 11 a.m. on KXAN Austin.


  • May 29, 2019 10:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Austin 360

    In a distillery space on the Hill Country outskirts of Austin, Revolution Spirits has become known for making unusual spirits and liqueurs to accompany its flagship gin. But the latest product might be the wildest one yet — in more ways than one.

    Releasing as a limited offering on Thursday is Revolution’s Spirit de Spon, a clear liquor drawing its primary flavor from spontaneously fermented beer produced at the neighboring Jester King Brewery. As such, the experimental spirit might not be like anything you’ve had before.

    The idea for Spirit de Spon came from the exact place where the beers that inspired Jester King’s Jeff Stuffings are made: in Belgium. Most specifically, the Revolution team, which includes co-founder Aaron Day and distillers Forrest Allen, Brian Meola and John Henry, had noticed the efforts of respected Belgian brewery Drie Fonteinen to create a spirit from spontaneously fermented beer, made in the traditional Belgian gueuze method, after it had gotten ruined from a thermostat malfunction.

    Though those 100,000 bottles of beer were no longer able to be sold, the beer could be distilled into something new. So Drie Fonteinen’s brewer, Armand Develder, took distillation classes after the 2010 incident in the hopes of saving his product.

    The result was “Armand’Spirit, a completely unique eau de vie made from spontaneously fermented wort,” according to Revolution Spirits’ Facebook post announcing the arrival of Spirit de Spon. “Ever since the release of Spon, we have wanted to do something similar and see how the complex flavors of the beer would come through after distillation.”

    Spon debuted at Jester King in late 2016. Founder Stuffings believes in making beers with a sense of place, featuring ingredients such as Texas-grown and -malted barley, well water from the Trinity Aquifer, hops that have been aged on-site and — particularly key to the spontaneous fermentation process — yeast and bacteria from the surrounding Hill Country. The resulting wild ales define Jester King’s beer program.

    Spontaneous fermentation involves allowing the wort (the hop and barley mixture) to inoculate naturally with airborne microorganisms, then having it ferment over time in barrels. (Most craft brewers make their wares by quicker fermentation in stainless steel tanks.) Jester King’s Spon series is a true American-born example of Belgian gueuze because each beer in the series is a multi-year blend of these spontaneously fermented ales.

    Since 2016, Jester King has released a number of Spon brews. The brewery down the road from Revolution Spirits has collaborated with the distillery on past projects, and for this one, it provided wort that went through spontaneous fermentation at Revolution’s stillhouse. It was then distilled twice. Distillation can profoundly change the original liquid, but that’s not what happened with Spirit de Spon.

    “We were very happy to find that much of the earthy, complex flavors and aromas that are indicative of the farmhouse beers of Jester King were retained in the final product. It truly captures the characteristics that define the beer and the spontaneous fermentation process in general,” according to the Revolution Spirits Facebook post.

    If that sounds like something you want to try, head to Revolution Spirits, at 12345 Pauls Valley Rd., Bldg. G., starting at 3 p.m. on Thursday to pick up a bottle. Bottles are super limited, and sales will be limited to one per customer.

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CONTACT US

816 Congress Avenue, Suite 940,
Austin, TX 78701

Amber Hausenfluck, Government Affairs: (512) 617-4523
Daniel Whitehead, Administration: (804) 775-1959 

info@texasdistilledspirits.org
www.texasdistilledspirits.org

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