Real Ale Brewing Launches Real Spirits Distilling
Real Ale Brewing located in the Texas Hill Country, Blanco, has been brewing beer since 1996. They produce handcrafted beer that is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and available only in Texas. #OnlyInTexas is the hashtag they use.
Born as a passion project of Real Ale Brewing Owner Brad Farbstein, Real Spirits has been in the making for over two years. Real Spirits is celebrating the release of their first spirits: a Signature Whiskey, Single Barrel Whiskey, and a Gin. Real Spirits bottles and cocktails will only be available to purchase in the Real Ale Tap Room, as a special treat for their visitors.
We were invited this past weekend to tour the facility and learn more about Real Spirits. Our tour was lead by the head distiller Davin Topel. Brad told us that when Davin approached him, he realized that both him and Davin have similar passions especially their passion for fly fishing and they quickly formed a bond. This is an important part of the culture at Real Ale.
Davin started the tour in the stillhouse where he explained that the whiskey starts off as a beer first (sans hops). Real Ale’s Devil’s Backbone Belgian style Tripel and the award-winning Real Heavy Scotch Ale are used to make their signature and single barrel whiskey. While gin is often made from a neutral alcohol that has little to no flavor, they chose to make Real Spirits grain-to-glass gin from their White, Belgian-Inspired Wheat Beer. They are brewed, fermented, aged and bottled. The gin is distilled twice on its own, then a third time with botanicals. They use 10 botanicals which include juniper, coriander, angelica root, boris root, locally grown lavender, lemon, lime and grapefruit peel, as well as leaves from the bottlebrush tree. The idea to add the bottlebrush tree came from Dr. Merriweather from Foraging Texas. Davin had to go and find a bottlebrush tree which was not an easy task. Later they found out a special FDA approval was needed to get bottlebrush approved as a botanical ingredient.
Davin utilizes a combination of steeping and vapor infusing during the distillation process. This process allows for the fine tuning of key flavors. After finishing the distillation process, the gin is left to rest for 3 months in a stainless-steel vessel where its flavors are allowed to mature and homogenize for a more harmonious and delicious spirit.
On our tour we were also joined by Real Ale Brewing founder Brad Farbstein. He went on to say that he is very passionate about all the ingredients (including the new charred American oak barrels) being from Texas. He wants the people who come to Real Spirits to taste Texas not any other state, and in this case a more specific Blanco Flora. This is very important to him since he was born and raised a Texan.
As we were about to end our tour, we were fortunate enough to try the Signature Whiskey, the Gin and the Single Barrel Whiskey which Davin poured for us straight from the barrel(using a barrel thief) ending a tour with a 110% barrel proof whiskey!
Read The Full Press Release:
Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco, Texas has been producing a variety of handcrafted beers in the Texas Hill Country for over two decades. Alongside an award-winning selection of beers like Firemans #4 Blonde Ale and Hans’ Pils German-Style Pilsner, the Real Ale brewing team consistently releases creative new beers, earning the brewery its place among the top craft breweries in the United States. Contrary to trends in the craft beer industry, Real Ale has committed to selling beers only within its home state of Texas, continuing to emphasize its philosophy of “quality over quantity.” After 21 years of building a solid foundation of beer, Real Ale officially launched the Real Spirits Distilling program in 2017.
Real Ale owner Brad Farbstein is as passionate about unique handmade spirits as he has always been about craft beer. In October 2014 he filed for a distillery permit and began tinkering away to create what would become Real Spirits. In April 2017, after years of experimentation and fine-tuning, Real Spirits launched to the public from the Real Ale tap room with Texas Hill Country Signature Whiskey, Grain to Glass Gin, and the highly limited first batch of Single Barrel Whiskey.
Fans can enjoy artisan cocktails and flights of beer at the tap room in Blanco while overlooking the brewery’s packaging hall and brewhouse.
Visitors also can purchase up to two 750-mL bottles of the handcrafted spirits to take home. Real Spirits are only available at the brewery and are not distributed outside of Real Ale’s tap room in Blanco.
All Real Spirits begin with—of course—a foundation of Real Ale beer. Currently, Devil’s Backbone Belgian-style Tripel and the award-winning Real Heavy Scotch Ale are used to make the signature and single barrel whiskey, and Real Ale’s White, a Belgian-style wheat ale, is the base beer for its gin. This means that Real Spirits are all made grain-to-glass. They are brewed, fermented, distilled, aged, bottled, and served on-site at Real Ale in Blanco.
One of the most unique aspects of the Real Spirits program is its reciprocal relationship with the Real Ale brewing team. While the brewers first make the beer that will become Real Spirits, the integration does not stop there. After the whiskey has been bottled, brewers are then able to use Real Spirits barrels to age beers for the Mysterium Verum program, continuing a life cycle that infuses the Real Ale personality and philosophy every step of the way in both the beer and spirits from Blanco.