Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #1- Social Still in Bethlehem, Pa

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #1- Social Still in Bethlehem, Pa

The next few months of my summer will be spent touring Pennsylvanian distilleries. Pennsylvania is one of the fastest growing distilling states in the country, which is exciting for me. A growth in the number of PA distilleries means a shift in our state’s history with distilled spirits. It means opportunity for grain farming in our fertile state and attention paid to our water sources. It means a “new” industry with connections to and effects on local economies. This isn’t just good for creativity in the distilling of craft spirits, it is good for our cities, small towns and counties. The first distillery I popped into was Social Still in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They are located on the south side of Bethlehem where the blue collar steel workers once lived...

Aren’t All Barrels Made From American White Oak?

Aren’t All Barrels Made From American White Oak?

 Someone recently asked me, “Aren’t all barrels made from American white oak?” My answer was “No,” but the elaboration was probably a bit longer than he expected. Most of us know that barrels are made out of oak staves. White oak is a part of the genus Quercus from the family of Fagaceae. It is a fascinating wood in that it is water resistant (not water proof) and can be shaped into containers to hold liquids. While all wood has pores, white oak produces seals over those pores called tyloses that make it water resistant. (Red oak barrels, for instance, might work better for dry goods because the open pores in the wood would keep its contents dry and aerated.) Oak trees tend to grow tall and straight, which works well for coopers that need to cut long, clean...