Meadow Brook Farms in Lehigh County

Meadow Brook Farms in Lehigh County

“To be interested in food and not food production is clearly absurd.” -Wendell Berry I believe the same can be said of whiskey and grain production. I had an opportunity to meet with Nevada Mease, a young, entrepreneurial Lehigh Valley farmer back in September, 2016.  I was incredibly impressed with the farm and all the efforts on behalf of Meadow Brook Farms to embrace new, organic practices in their farming. The farm itself is beautiful and nestled into wooded acreage along the outskirts of the property. It’s built into the side of a hill with the barn and storage facilities higher up above the stone farm house.  Animals were grazing in the fields, and Nevada was making plans to get his winter crops laid down in the fields. Meadow Brook Farm is one...

Philadelphia Distilling- Before the Big Move

Philadelphia Distilling- Before the Big Move

Though many Philadelphians are aware of this, Philadelphia Distilling is moving.  They have been happily nestled in an industrial park on McNulty Rd. in the Byberry neighborhood of Philadelphia since 2005, and now they will be moving their base of operations to a more central location- the Fillmore.  This newly opened music venue is very visible from I-95. The new headquarters will have a tasting room, event space, retail shop, an 80-seat restaurant, 80-seat outdoor patio and cocktail bar.  My interest is not yet in the new location yet, because the roots of the distillery’s history are in Byberry…and the business is still located there…for the time being. I stopped by their McNulty Rd. location last month to pay some respect to the first Pennsylvania distillery...

Conneaut Cellars Distillery in the Northwest of PA

Conneaut Cellars Distillery in the Northwest of PA

About an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh is the busy tourist destination town of Conneaut (Con-ee- ought) Lake.  The lake is full of sailboats and the roads are full of trucks with trailers in tow and SUV’s full of families.  I pulled into Conneaut Lake on Sunday morning looking for a good distillery. Conneaut Cellars Winery was already busy offering wine tastings to tourists when I stopped in looking for Joal Wolf.  Joal is the son of Alan and Phyllis Wolf, the original owners and proprietors of the winery, and learned his wine craft from his father.  Joal’s father, Dr. Alan Wolf, learned a great deal about wine in the 50’s while he was stationed in Germany as an American state department representative.  Those skills were refined back in the U.S. in the...

Visit to CJ Spirits in Kane, Pa

Visit to CJ Spirits in Kane, Pa

Sometimes the long drive between two Pennsylvania distilleries can take you on an unexpected route. I wound my way through northwest Pennsylvania between Conneaut Lake and Kane on very isolated (and sometimes dirt) roadways past Pennsylvania Dutch settlements. I’m from the eastern part of the state where Lancaster and the surrounding countryside is home to many PA Dutch towns and villages. I was taken by surprise to see young ladies and children walking their bikes up steep hills with their packages only to ride them down the other side on these western roads. Views of farmsteads and front yards filled with families meeting for picnics and brimmed hat and bonnet wearing parents pushing small children in strollers up long winding roads made for a slow trip. I...

Autumn and Five Saints Distilling

Autumn and Five Saints Distilling

I’ve been out visiting distilleries throughout the summer, but I have no intention of stopping now that autumn is here. The cooler temperatures remind us that whiskey and spirits are warming and satisfying this time of year. It isn’t just good for the whiskey drinkers, it’s also a productive time of year for farmers and distillers. Rye, winter wheat, and barley are go into the ground in September. Small grains, which are necessities in the creation of whiskey, need the short growth spurt in late September and October to establish themselves and anchor the soil (reducing erosion) before the frost causes the plants to go dormant. (They will return in full force in the spring for harvest in the summer.) The distillers are welcoming the lower temperatures that help...

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #16- Stoll and Wolfe Distillery, Lititz, Pa

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #16- Stoll and Wolfe Distillery, Lititz, Pa

Every once in a while, you get to see a circle being completed. The last distillery to close its doors in Pennsylvania was Michter’s Distillery in Schaefferstown in 1990. The closing of this distillery marked the end of an era. The Michter’s brand name was sold to a company in Kentucky (Chatham Imports) and the brick and mortar distillery was left to decompose. The last distiller to work on site in Shaefferstown was a man named Dick Stoll. Now, in his eighties, Mr. Stoll and his youthful, energetic partner, Erik Wolfe are determined to bring back that which was lost. Their new Stoll & Wolfe distillery will incorporate the old with the new by employing the talents and experience of Mr. Stoll with the a modern vision of Pennsylvania distilling. Lititz, Pa is...

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #15- Red Brick Craft Distillery, Philadelphia, Pa

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #15- Red Brick Craft Distillery, Philadelphia, Pa

  I had the good fortune to meet Zachary Cohen and Brian Forrest in March of last year at the American Whiskey Convention at Citizens Bank Park. They had not bottled any spirits as of yet, but they had been hard at work for more than 6 months getting Red Brick Craft Distillery up and running in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Zach worked with Deer Creek Malt House to prepare an educational display for the event that showed the amount of grain that went into a shot and a bottle of whiskey. Even without spirits to pour at the event, he certainly made an impression. He feels strongly about supporting local farmers and grain producers, so we had plenty to talk about. Zach leased the property on Martha Street in Kensington in October of 2014. What once...

Summer 2016 Pa Distillery Tour #14- Midstate Distillery, Harrisburg, Pa

Summer 2016 Pa Distillery Tour #14- Midstate Distillery, Harrisburg, Pa

This past winter, when I drove out to Harrisburg for the 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show, I passed a brand new distillery that was just opening its doors to the public.  Midstate Distillery opened on January 9th, 2016 to coordinate with the first day of the grand event.  It’s been 2 years in the making, but they are now a part of the rapidly growing Pennsylvania distilling scene. Brian Myers and Dan Healy are part owners and brothers-in-law. They bought the building, which used to be the Smith Paint building, to house the first distillery in Harrisburg since Prohibition. Brian’s manufacturing and business experience and Dan’s chemistry background pair well. They were enthusiastic home-brewers, but found after visiting distilleries in Colorado, that their...