At a cocktail conference, a certain amount of rejiggering is expected. With Tales of the Cocktail only two weeks away, it's high time to see what needs rearranging. Wouldn't want to miss a free drink, now.
Needless to say, I'm excited about the upcoming annual event, but one session in particular made me certain not to miss it this year. Chris Sule, distiller at Old New Orleans Rum, has put together a panel discussion called "From Brewer to Distiller" that explores the sensibilities brewers bring to the game when they turn to distilling. Check out the preview here.
Last year Chris pulled out the stops for Mike McCaw's workshop on operating a small modern column still (in that case, a PDA-1 from the Amphora Society). Given the concerns of the NOFD (something about...explosions?), Mike wasn't allowed to distill on site, but Chris brought in waves of foreshots, heads, tails, and hearts to pass around and illustrate the smells and tastes typical in various stages distilling process. It was, perhaps, the most rank smelling room in the hotel that week. And an absolute delight.
Mike, Ian Smiley, and I followed with a panel talk on what we called, tongues in cheeks, nano-distilling: that is, very small batches typical of modern home distillers. Needless to say, we weren't the only distillers there.
As the three of us talked about our backgrounds, it came out that we all began as homebrewers. Maybe it's the experimental bent of brewers or the small batches that encourage much tweaking and adjusting and succumbing to the temptation of strange ideas. But it's undeniable: There's something about making your own beer—once you do it enough—that just says whiskey is the most natural next step.
Sule joins Ray Deter (d.b.a New Orleans and d.b.a. NYC), Jess Graber (Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey), and hos won brother, noted home brewer Charles Sule, for a discussion about what brewers bring to the craft once they catch the distilling bug.
Hosted by Old New Orleans Rum, the 90-minute session will include tastings of whiskey mash as well as several spirits made by former and current brewers. Expect an enthusiastic examination of the “new state of American beer and spirits, drawing parallels, crafting contrasts, and telling the story of where we were, where we’re at, and where we’re going.”
Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:30-4:00 PM in the Riverview Room at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. A review of the calendar suggests I'll be in that same room all day...