License to Distill: Alberta moonshine
Bear Hill Brewery wants to roll out test batches of moonshine in summer 2014
by Alberta Venture Staff
Whisky and gin, distilled in-house, are already in the plans for Wood Buffalo Brewing Co. in Fort McMurray. But coming this summer could be another alcoholic creation called … moonshine? Yes, you read that right. Legal moonshine.
There is built-in illicitness to moonshine, the booze of choice for many a backwoods bootlegger. The mouth-burning liquid has earned nicknames like “hooch,” “white lightning” and “Jake” as a result. But according to Socrates Korogonas, founding partner of Bear Hill Brewery, which operates Wood Buffalo Brewing and brew pubs in Jasper and Banff – and which is the first to take a crack at legal hooch – moonshine could be the next thing for people thirsty for artisanal alcohol. He says he’s hoping the company’s moonshine will “inspire people to try new things.”
Bear Hill is distilling its moonshine on site, in small batches, and Korogonas says it will be flavoured to suit the palate of Albertans. “We can adjust in real time,” he says. “If it’s not getting good feedback we can go back to the drawing board and adjust.” Bear Hill may be rolling out test batches of moonshine as early as this summer, if only to get feedback from the informal focus group seated at the bar. But Korogonas says the company is still in research and development with its moonshine. “Unless we’re comfortable drinking it, I don’t think it’s good to serve it to our customers,” he says. That’s likely wise, given ol’ Jake’s well-documented tendency (in illegal form) to burn mouths, blind and even cripple.
How You Can Make Some ’Shine
Making moonshine is relatively simple, and that’s probably a bad thing. You just need heat, grain, water, tools and time. Most critically, though, you need care. Drink improperly made ’shine and you can go blind.