18th Street Distillery adds Fermentorium that will increase capacity, space and special events | Northwest Indiana Commercial Securities
HAMMOND — The 18th Street Distillery, a subsidiary of the 18th Street Brewery, is expanding in downtown Hammond, where it is opening the Fermentorium.
The acclaimed distillery, known for its rye whiskey, bourbon and other spirits, celebrated the grand opening of its latest space on Friday. It takes over a 5,000 square foot brick building that was once a Pabst Blue Ribbon warehouse where 18th Street can dramatically increase its production capacity.
“This will allow an additional 10,000 gallons to 12,000 gallons of fermentation,” said Founder and President Drew Fox. “That would make us the largest distillery in northwest Indiana.”
The 18th Street Distillery now hosts special events in the new space at 474 Fayette St., which it acquired from the town of Hammond.
In the spring, he will move his tasting room from the current location at 5417 Oakley Ave. across the street to the new facility, where he will also have a 1,600 square foot entertainment space, a botanical garden where he will grow herbs for his sports and cocktails, and apartments, including an Airbnb for weddings or those looking to take a “brewer’s vacation”.
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“It’s an event and living space with two new apartments, one we’ll be renting out and one we’ll be turning into an Airbnb,” he said. “This will be an event space as well as our new tasting lounge. Our current location is quite small and we plan to move to the street in early spring. We will have more seating. The goal is to book weddings and social events events It’s a really cool space.
Anyone staying at the Airbnb will get a free tour of the distillery as well as porter service to bring them alcohol.
“We’re going to try Airbnb,” he said. “Couples getting married or people coming for social events may want to stay. People visiting the brewery from Chicago, Ohio or somewhere in the Midwest will hopefully want to take advantage of it. “
The 18th Street Distillery has hosted birthday parties and other smaller events in its current space, but has been inundated with wedding requests as the distilleries have grown in popularity as wedding destinations.
“I can’t even tell you how many marriage requests we’ve had per week that we haven’t been able to fulfill,” he said. “I think distilleries have become popular because they’re extremely fascinating spaces with the barrels, the smell of the warehouse, the beautiful copper stills and the pot stills. It photographs well.”
The historic property, most recently an auto repair shop, dates back to the 1940s. Fox is investigating whether it was ever used by Hammond Distilling Co. after finding a bottle from there at the site. He sent it to the Ball Corp. to try to determine its authenticity.
“The Hammond Distilling Co. was once one of the largest distilleries in the country and an important part of local history. We need to protect that and talk about it,” Fox said. “Another thing to note is that we are the first African American-owned distillery in the state of Indiana. I am proud of that heritage and want to encourage more African Americans to get into the business. of distilling in the state of Indiana.. I have an obligation to open my doors and make myself available to African Americans who want to get into distilling. It is a predominantly white industry that does not only 1% of African Americans in the country. To be the first in Indiana is definitely an honor.”
The new distillery building was vacated about two and a half years ago. 18th Street began renovations about four months ago.
18th Street will be able to double the seating capacity from around 30 people in the tasting room to around 60 people.
“There will be snack options,” he said. “There won’t be a full kitchen because we’re moving away from that model.”
As an event space, it will accommodate up to 200 people for weddings, social functions, political rallies, Bar Mitzvahs and other special events.
The downtown 18th Street campus also features the flagship craft brewery and dining venue Sour Note Brewing which focuses on sour beers. The distillery makes whisky, rye, gin, moonshine, vodka, rum and other spirits that have won numerous awards.
It is distributed throughout Indiana, Chicago and southern Wisconsin.
“We’ve won over a few dozen awards,” Fox said. “Our spirits sales efforts are to be the #1 seller of spirits in Northwest Indiana.”
It also sells pre-made craft cocktails that are made weekly. The expansion will allow 18th Street to increase production of canned cocktails for take-out.
18th Street Distillery should be able to increase production from around 2,000 barrels per year to around 5,000 barrels.
“Craft beer is changing,” he said. “There’s still growth in both segments, but spirits are really taking off with young people looking for bourbon. There’s a huge population of women looking for whiskey and bourbon. You’re going to see more breweries switch from beer to spirits to recoup their losses over the past few years.”
The expansion is expected to create four to six additional jobs.
For more information, visit www.18thstreetdistillery.com.