Spirit Works is the perfect descriptor for the glorious afternoon we experienced in Sebastopol on Sunday. From the tour and tasting at the Spirit Works Distillery to feeding the pigs and goats at Hilary and Jack’s farm. Both are works of transformation and exemplary of the art and craft of DIY.
At the San Francisco Center for the Book fundraising auction Judith was the bidder on a tour and tasting at Spirit Works. As long time fans and supporters of the Center we were happy to help support their cause and be in receipt in what we thought would be an interesting educational excursion into the realm of distilling grain into spirits.
With Richard’s son Eli we have jerry-rigged a pressure cooker and copper tubing and distilled some 140 proof Rye. We even grew our own rye. For oakiness, Eli charred some twigs on the BBQ and put them in the bottles. The jury is still out and will be for some time. A bottle has been put away for Grandson Jude’s 21st. Although we may not be around for that momentous tasting it will be infused with our DIY love of trying to transform rye into spirits and we should by then be spirits ourselves. Our “whiskey” is a little harsh right now, but we did ferment our apples and distilled the result. Deee-liscoius right now! 110 proof Calvados.
The centerpiece of the operation at Spirit Works is the eye-dazzling still, a maze of tubes and nozzles of copper made by CARL a world renown fabricator from Germany.
From “grain to glass” is the byline as they source the raw grain from organic farmers, grind the grain, ferment the mash, distill, then age vodka or add the botanicals then distill again to make the gin.
The four categories of flavor necessary to make a balanced gin are spice, grass/earthy, floral and citrus. To this end, in addition to juniper, they use coriander, cardamom, orris root, angelica and hibiscus, as well as lemon and orange rind.
Using music to keep the fermentors happy and to determine if different beats effect the flavor they have iPods attached to the barrels with earphone speakers. Imagine the flavor of the rhythm of Meghan Trainor All About That Bass
After the tour we sidled up to the bar, but this was no slugging–shots–cowboy style. Our guide carefully poured tasters and we were feted with a sampling of each of their fine spirits: Vodka, Gin, Barrel Gin, Sloe Gin, Straight Rye Whiskey, Straight Wheat Whiskey.
In the western hills of Sebastopol Jack and Hilary are crafting a farm as an example of sustainable agriculture, land stewardship and humane animal husbandry. They are proponents of “from farm to table.” We are signing up for their CSA cheese program to own a fraction of a goat and a cow who will be providing the milk to make the cheese.
We want pigs!! As we’ve often said referring to anything out of our ken, “We don’t want a swimming pool, just a good friend with a swimming pool.” What we really want is for Aunt Hilary to have pigs we can come visit, feed, scratch, generally adore their mirthful oinky-ness and then devour!
The spa-like atmosphere — the fields of fresh grass and tubs of water makes everyone laid back.
Can we have one? One that remains under her magnificent ministration? Some kind of co-parenting arrangement. CSA-ish? Loved seeing how she husbands the critters. She is a model, the poster child for the de-sentimentalized PETA.
In looking for synonyms for pig, Richard came across “cob roller”…??? Who knew?