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At House Spirits Making Great Whiskey starts with Brewing Great Beer

At House Spirits Making Great Whiskey starts with Brewing Great Beer

“Beer flavors are delicious” says House Spirits lead distiller Miles Munroe. “They’re an necessary a part of the traits of our single malt [Westward] and, I feel, a superb instance of the lineage from Amercian craft brewing to American single malt whiskey creation. “


All whiskey begins with beer nevertheless it’s uncommon to see a distillery so related to the Portland craft beer scene as House Spirits Distillery. The Portland-based House Spirits started close to the fermentation sciences faculty at Oregon State College earlier than relocating to southeast Portland the place they’ve turned maybe the premiere distillery in Oregon. House Spirits flagship product Westward American Whiskey exhibits off the distillers intimate connection to craft beer by showcasing the brewing course of and signature malts and yeast for a perfectly clean and malty whiskey that’s aged for simply two years in American Oak barrels. Westward is the tip of the spear in relation to House Spirits and native breweries with collaborations with Migration Brewing, Fort George Brewery and lots of others that may spotlight the collaborative nature of the 2 opposing industries in addition to their similarities.

To make a whiskey, you start with brewing a beer. Most microdistillery’s supply “wort” the candy, unfermented liquid that comes from cooked malted barley to be fermented and distilled. The distilleries load up totes or tanks with the candy unfermented wort from an area brewery and drive it throughout city to ferment in a tank on the distillery. House Spirits began off like most micro distillers by sourcing wort from the now defunct Roots Natural Brewing and extra lately Breakside Brewery however in 2015 they started brewing their very own beer and controlling the processs from grain to glass. The wort is just like any made for a beer however is often a easy grain invoice of only one malt and no hops are added. The mash temperature is low (149F levels) to create a extremely fermentable wort and is often fermented with a distillers yeast and never a extra flavorful brewers yeast.


House Spirits merchandise


House Spirits was based by Lee Medoff and Christian Krogstad in 2004 in Corvallis, Oregon and moved to Portland shortly after in 2005. Medoff left the distillery to discovered his personal Bull Run Distilling in 2010 and took certainly one of House Spirits in style manufacturers Medoyeff Vodka with him. Krogstad continued to construct the model he helped begin with their flagship product Aviation Gin main the cost whereas shifting towards launching their very own whiskey.


House Spirits tasting room in SE Portland


By 2012 Aviation Gin comprised about 80% of House Spirits manufacturing however in 2013 they teamed with Southern Wine & Spirits to launch their product into 35 states whereas famed NFL quarterback Joe Montana made an funding within the distillery and helped catapult the corporate into turning into a small native identify model. House Spirits opened a tasting room on the airport that very same yr and commenced engaged on a brand new manufacturing facility to accomodate elevated manufacturing and area for whiskey barrels. In November 2015 House Spirits moved into their present area: a 14,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility and tasting room with a price of $6 million. They put in their very own 35 barrel brewhouse and 100 barrel fermentation tanks to brew their very own whiskey washes in-house. By 2016 the corporate had pivoted from Aviation Gin to Westward Whiskey and bought off the gin model to Davos Manufacturers so they might concentrate on different merchandise like their whiskey and Krogstad Aquavit. At present Westward is about 50% of House Spirits complete manufacturing and can improve with alternate variations the corporate plans to launch sooner or later. This yr House Spirits will brew an enormous 25,000 barrels of beer that may develop into about 1,200 barrels of whiskey.


Christian Krogstad (entrance left) and Miles Munroe


Christian Krogstad began out as a homebrewer within the eighties and began professionally brewing in ’91 working for McMenamins Breweries at their Edgefield location and Hillsdale Pub. He occasion attended America’s well-known brewing faculty the Siebel Institute in ’93 and co-founded a brewery referred to as Orchard Road in Bellingham, Washington in ’95. In 2004 Krogstad determined to pursue his pursuits in distilling and moved to Portland after closing Orchard Road Brewery in 2004.

“I have always loved both beer and whiskey, and after 12 years in brewing I was ready for a new adventure,” says Krogstad.

House Spirits lead distiller Miles Munroe additionally got here from the craft beer world and was interested in distilling after turning into fascinated with single malt whiskey. “I was behind the bar of a members club in Kansas City, Missouri with a wall of single malt Scotches behind me that I tried one-by-one to familiarize myself with the profiles of the regions. I was hooked and decided it was what I needed to do eventually and with all the reading I’d done decided that I should brew first to understand fermentation at that detailed level and then make my way to distilling.”


House Spirits lead distiller Miles Munroe


Munroe accomplished the Brewing Science & Engineering program on the American Brewers Guild in 2010 and have become a brewing intern at Bridgeport Brewing. He stayed within the business with stints at Lompoc Brewing and Migration Brewing earlier than studying that House Spirits was engaged on a single malt whiskey model.

“I jumped at the chance to become involved; considering then it was either Scotland or Japan for serious single malt production,” says Munroe.

Westward Whiskey is a really malt ahead whiskey, extremely clean, complicated and beer taste ahead. Whereas some whiskey’s are lighter bodied, hotter or extra charred or spiced tasting Westward is nearly malty candy like a Scottish Ale. Whiskey doesn’t even essentially use malted barley, it might be produced from wheat, rye or corn. Whiskey can also be totally different than bourbon in that bourbon is atleast 51% corn. Westward Whiskey is 100% malted barley.

“it has a very straight forward grain characteristic that we want featured at all times,” says Munroe. “High-quality malted barley is a very expensive raw ingredient which makes an excellent whiskey and having a very clean fermentation helps preserve those flavors and so we take care in minimizing our processes that would masks those great grain flavors.”



House Spirits makes use of a high-colored two-row barley base malt from Great Western Malting within the making of Westward. They mash in with the malt at a low temperature as a result of though a sweeter wort won’t volatize/condense and can merely scale back the yield for the whiskey., so it has no impact on whiskey aside from to scale back yield. Unusually additionally they ferment the wort with “Chico” American Ale Yeast which leaves a cleaner, brighter profile than a distillers yeast may, it’s one other method this whiskey is extra beer-like than others. House Spirits then makes use of a pot nonetheless to transform the beer into whiskey. Their nonetheless has a brief column in order that a number of the harsh byproducts of the distillation are carried off and make for a smoother and extra full bodied spirit.

Like beer, there’s a hotside and a coldside to the manufacturing. Hotside is the cooked mash, boil kettle and heat fermentation. In a brewery the beer would then be chilled in vibrant tanks, packaged and stored chilly however in a distillery the second half of the method is arguably much more essential and that’s time in an oak barrel. House Spirits makes use of American Oak barrels with a medium degree of charring on the within to age the whiskey for atleast three years whereas Westward is a mix of 5 to 5 and a half yr barrel-aged whiskey. The medium 2-char is in distinction to many who use a heavy char, the lighter barrel char permits the the malt to shine via much more.



“A big part of our appeal to craft beer drinkers, I think, is that so many beer qualities show up front in Westward single malt. It’s also why Westward pairs perfectly with grain-forward beers,” says Munroe.

We additionally use a medium char for our barrels which provides a much less assertive barrel character to the ultimate spirit and let’s the grain points shine by way of. An enormous a part of our attraction to craft beer drinkers, I feel, is that so many beer qualities present up entrance in Westward single malt. It’s additionally why Westward pairs completely with grain-forward beers.

With manufacturing dialed in and gross sales wholesome, House Spirits is experimenting with different forms of whiskey and variations on Westward which are much more craft beer ahead.

“Speaking of experimentation we almost always take our barrels back from brewers and use some aged Westward to “finish” within the beer barrel,” says Munroe on how the distilleries upcoming Stout Cask End challenge received began. “To trade barrels back and forth and collaborate with brewers keeps us directly involved in the craft beer world and offers up some fantastic variations on cask-finished whiskies.”




There have already been a variety of beers launched that have been aged in Westward and different barrels from House Spirits, just like the Heritage Whiskey Barrel-Aged Porter from 2017 that Migration Brewing launched of their restricted Migrator Collection (pictured above.)

“The Stout Cask Finish expression is Westward American Single Malt that has finished ageing in barrels that previously held stout beer,” says Munroe. This can be a separate line of whiskey that House Spirits plans to launch in 2019 however that Krogstad says ought to see a couple of barrels of launched this winter. “it will serve to feature our lineage from brewing to distilling and the inseparable union of American craft brewing and American single malt whiskey” proclaims Munroe, “Its damn tasty too.” As a part of that program, Fort George has a dozen or so Westward Whiskey barrels with their Cavatica Stout ageing in them that shall be returned to the distillery to age their Stout Cask End whiskey. And as a cool one-off experiment House Spirits truly took a attempt at brewing Cavatica Stout on their brewhouse and have distilled it right into a whiskey at present getting old in barrels. No phrase but on when and the place we might get a style of that however you may be positive beer and whiskey followers shall be setting their google alerts.

The most important collaboration to date is one with Fort George Brewery that may debut witht he Stout Cask End venture in 2019. As a part of that program, Fort George has a dozen or so Westward Whiskey barrels with their Cavatica Stout getting old in them and at House Spirits they took a attempt at brewing Cavatica Stout on their brewhouse earlier than distilling it right into a whiskey at present ageing there in barrels.