Tree House Brewing Company new distillery Charlton Nathan Lanier

Tree House Brewing Company new distillery Charlton Nathan Lanier


Tree House details new distillery

CHARLTON – Tree House Brewing Company is one of the most well-known and respected breweries in the world and now they have decided to dip their toes into the distilling world.

The makers of such beers as Julius, Green and Sap have released their first liquor from its new distillery project called Kola, a coffee liquor made with its own roasted coffee.

Nathan Lanier, co-founder and head brewer at Tree House, said there is more to come from Tree House’s new distillery.

“We’re going at this project hard,” Lanier said. “Without a doubt, the whole idea for us is to have a product to be proud of. We feel more attached to it if we’re able to control it.”

Tree House Brewing Company was founded by Lanier, Dean Rohan and Damien Goudreau in Brimfield in 2011. They then moved to a family member’s farm in Monson before they opened their Charlton location at 129 Sturbridge Road in 2017.

Separate from the brewery

The new distillery is in a more than 10,000-square-foot space in a warehouse separate from the beer brewery. 

“We enjoy the process and we enjoy the outcome,” Lanier said. “A lot of this is based on curiosity. That’s a big part of it. We have the equipment here, the ability and the capability to jump into it.”

Lanier works hand-in-hand with distiller John Britton as they work on making various liquors. Lanier brews the wort, which is a non-alcoholic liquid that comes from the mashing process. For beer, yeast is added to produce alcohol. 

Lanier also produces wort mashed from Tree House’s own ingredients that is then used to make spirits in the distilling process.

“To make something that tastes great, you need to know what tastes great,” Lanier said. “What we’re learning is John, who is an amazing distiller, has an amazing palate. What I’ve brought to the table is knowledge of wort production and fermentation. We’re delivering him wort that is in premium condition.”

Kola, Tree House’s first distilled spirit, is an example of how Tree House plans to distill its spirits. They used wort brewed in the brewery and cold brew concentrate from beans roasted at its own coffee roasters. Future spirits, including a series of fruit brandies, will use fruit grown at Tree House’s farm in Connecticut.

“It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship between all of these products,” Lanier said. “Distilling is just a natural byproduct of what we’re doing.”

Vodka, gin in the future

In the future, Tree House plans to produce a house vodka and a house gin, as well as other spirits. 

They also have undertaken a bourbon program. Lanier said he could not provide many details, but said much of what is being produced in the distillery is being aged in barrels to produce Bourbon.

“We’ve initiated a very ambitious undertaking,” said Lanier. “It will be squirreled away for the next several years.”

Once those barrels are empty of bourbon, they will then be used in the brewery to produce barrel-aged beers to continue the idea of combining all of the aspects of Tree House together.

“The only thing we’re not doing at this point is being coopers (barrel makers) and growing our own oak for the barrels,” Lanier said. “We’re not too far away from making cider. As far as I’m concerned, nothing is off the table.”

For those who worry that Tree House is getting away from its original goal of brewing the best beers they could, Lanier said that’s not the case. He said they’re bringing the same passion to both their coffee program and their distilling program as they do to their beer brewing, with the goal of producing world-class versions of them all.

“We’re very excited,” he said. “We’re doing this because we’re passionate about it.”

Norman Miller can be reached at 508-626-3823 or nmiller@wickedlocal.com. For other news, follow Norman Miller on Twitter @Norman_MillerMW or on Facebook at facebook.com/NormanMillerCrime.


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