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Mentioned in this Episode:
Federal Excise Tax Relief!: https://p2a.co/ZkTAA9V?iframe=1
Spirit Hound Distillers, Lyons, CO: http://www.spirithounds.com/
Bee Squared Apiaries, Berthoud, CO: https://bethsbees.com/
Episode Identifier (00:00:00): Welcome back to season two of the Distilling Craft podcast. You’re listening to episode nine, Bee Prepared.
Dalkita Promo (00:00:10): The Distilling Craft podcast is brought to you by Dalkita, a group of architects and engineers who specialize in designing craft distilleries across the U.S. More information is available at our website, www.dalkita.com.
Colleen Moore (00:00:27): Hey guys, Colleen Moore here from Dalkita and your host for this episode of the Distilling Craft podcast. When I last left you, we were doing our annual survey to find out more about what you wanted to hear on this show. And as a thank you to those of you who took three minutes, out of your day to complete it, we held a drawing for a $100 gift pack of Colorado local goodies. And our winner was Liz Rhodes from Spirit Safe consulting up in the beautiful garden state of New Jersey. Now, I set that survey to close right before the virtual ACSA convention – which honestly wasn’t very clever- so, I actually extended it through the convention and we drew another winner for a $50 gift pack specifically from the kind ACSA members that gave me their feedback. That winner was Max Marin from Bentley Heritage in Nevada, the silver state. I sent each of the winners, a fully custom gift box of local, Colorado goodies from Colorado Crafted.
Colleen Moore (00:01:33): One of the items inside those boxes was whiskey-barrel-aged, honey. We are going to tell you a little bit more about that product later in the show. So, what did we learn from the survey? Well, there were a couple of surprise curve balls. Like you want to hear heaps more about the TTB and legal issues. Something that wasn’t a surprise, you want more process information. I’m glad to report back to you that we are tackling this particular problem in a very near future episode with a series of special guests, all about process pitfalls in a number of different processes and process types inside the still house. So keep an ear out for those stories on upcoming shows.
Colleen Moore (00:02:16): Now, if you want to nominate an industry peer for me to get on the show and then quiz them all about their secret processes, tips and tricks, I’m open to it. Drop me a message from our website. On today’s show I’ve got a collection of shorter stories for you. First up, a new semi-regular feature from friend of the show Mark Shilling. Mark has been on our show in a previous episode specifically about RTDs and keeps a crazy busy schedule with a lot of activities that includes lobbying on behalf of all distillers for federal excise tax relief and heading up uncle Billy’s RTD line. Plus, he works with the Texas Distillers Guild and runs his own spirits consultancy. Welcome back to the show Mark.
Mark Shilling (00:03:08): Hi, Colleen. Thanks for having me on today.
Colleen Moore (00:03:10): You bet. So talk to me about some of the things happening in the legislative world. I know there’s the FET tax reduction is still an issue. Tell me a little bit about what’s happening there.
Mark Shilling (00:03:24): Well, so as you know, we’re going on about 10 years now in our effort to create permanent excise tax parity for, for small distilleries, we at the end of 2017 were successful in passing the CBMTRA (Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. We passed it as a temporary two year measure we’ve gotten thrown into the endless cycle of end of the year tax extenders. There are a number of tax provisions in code that expire and have to be reauthorized every year, or every other year. There are a couple that last a little bit further out than that. So we’re trying to move forward and get it into permanency. We despite COVID, have not let up on our efforts. I feel like we’re still making progress. We have an unprecedented number of sponsors for the legislation of both the House and the Senate. Approximately 75%, three-quarters of both chambers have signed on as sponsors. It is very rare that you see a piece of legislation that has that much official, formal support that you would think just that in and of itself would be enough to get this thing done.
Colleen Moore (00:04:56): Sounds like a slam dunk, honestly.
Mark Shilling (00:04:59): It should be. In any state legislature, in the country, it would be. Congress operates a little bit differently. The rules are different. There’s an amount of inertia that is much more difficult to overcome. We’re continuing to make progress. We heard from Ron Wyden our Senate sponsor of the bill, yesterday at the ACSA Virtual Town Hall. He gave a great update and some advice on what we should be doing, which is to continue to talk to our, individual representatives and senators in our States and to continue to work with our cousins in beer, wine, and cider to present a united front. They’ve got issues in the bill as well. And you know, he is he’s bullish on this. You know, all of the legislation around COVID the Cares Act I, II, III, and things still under consideration have obviously taken precedence up there.
Mark Shilling (00:06:02): We have been talking with leadership about having this rolled into a Cares Act bill. My guess is that’s probably not going to happen. It’s just not seen as a priority the same way as the other measures. So, our best case is another tax extender at the end of the year. Possibly, post-election, possibly a lame-duck session. We’ve talked with Chairman Grassley in the Senate. He’s the Senate finance chair, and Richie Neal – Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. They’re both on-board, they’re both committed. They both indicated that they would like to see this done this year. Again, I don’t know what will happen if, it’s got to be at least extended by the end of the year.
Colleen Moore (00:06:58): Just to catch people up. What happens if it is not extended? What is the, this, the doomsday scenario for that expires at the end of the year? What does January 1st start looking like for spirits sales?
Mark Shilling (00:07:12): Well, the same as what happened at the end of 2017. There’s going to be a lot of discussion amongst distilleries about moving product out of bond and getting it sold or, if you have the space moving it out of bond and paying taxes on it, leaving it in your distillery until you can get rid of it. Because at midnight on the end of the year, that tax rate is going to go up. So, until it is fixed, then you’re going to pay the full freight on all of that product.
Colleen Moore (00:07:50): Okay. And just as a reminder for maybe a new listener, what is the federal excise tax rate right now?
Mark Shilling (00:07:57): The current rate, the reduced rate is $2.70/ proof gallon up to a 100,000 proof gallons removed per year. The original rate, and the rate that it would go back to is $13.50/ proof gallon. That is, I believe a 400% increase, right?
Colleen Moore (00:08:18): A 400% increase in taxes.
Mark Shilling (00:08:20): It’s a lot of money to a small distillery.
Colleen Moore (00:08:23): Absolutely. And a lot of money now that they’re dealing with income restrictions from tasting room closures and restrictions on being open and things like that.
Mark Shilling (00:08:36): Absolutely. You know, a lot of distilleries have lost so many opportunities, so many channels for revenue. If your tasting room is closed, you’re probably giving up somewhere between 25 and 50% of your, your gross revenues right now.
Colleen Moore (00:08:54): So would be a painful thing. What can a distiller that’s listening to this podcast do to support FET, Texas, or revisions?
Mark Shilling (00:09:07): Call your congressmen. If you haven’t done it yet, get in touch with them, make sure they know about the legislation. Ask them to sign on if they haven’t already. I wanted to ask Senator Wyden this, and I didn’t have a chance to whether or not there’s a magic number. If we have, you know, if we get a hundred senators to sign on in the Senate, does that mean it’s a done deal? Or are they still going to screw around with the process and wait to stick it in another bill or something like that? Same question in the House. Is there a magic number at which point you, the Speaker, can no longer ignore the number and absolutely must move it on its own. I don’t know the answer to that, but that’s a long way around saying there are still a handful of members in each chamber that have not signed on, and if we can get them signed on, that’s a benefit.
Mark Shilling (00:10:03): It’s not just about signing on though. It’s not just, will you support the bill it’s will you actively support the bill and engage with your colleagues on the Hill and get some movement on this. We need it now, not next year, not two years from now. The other thing, although it may be depressed in a lot of cases, if you’ve been actively talking to potential investors, Investors want certainty in the market. They want to know what they’re getting into. If you can’t tell them what your tax picture’s gonna look like over the next six months, or year, or five years… That’s a red flag,
Colleen Moore (00:10:44): It’s a giant unstable question-mark, and they’re not fans of those. Right?
Mark Shilling (00:10:49): And we all want a stable and successful economy. Congress wants a stable and successful economy, so we can all work together and do the right thing and make this happen.
Colleen Moore (00:10:59): Okay. So FET action. We should call our Congress representative. I’m assuming we might be able to get a list of the holdouts on the Hill that we could potentially,
Colleen Moore (00:11:19): Sounds good. Now, another big thing happening in this legislative arena is the revision of the dietary guidelines from, I think the USDA, tell me a little bit about what is happening there.
Mark Shilling (00:11:34): This is a thing that has not been widely reported. If you haven’t been paying attention, you may not be aware of this, every five years the USDA and Health and Human Services get together and they update and revise their dietary standards. So they put out an 800+ page report recommending changes for standards on every consumable you can imagine. There is a chapter of about 30 pages on alcohol consumption. What they’ve done is the standard for many years – for decades – has been two drinks per day for a man and one drink per day for a woman. Now, obviously there are a lot of details involved in that, that we could discuss…
Colleen Moore (00:12:38): Like, math that could happen.
Mark Shilling (00:12:40): Size, weight, metabolism, underlying health conditions, a really short and skinny man versus a tall and large woman, even that it’s a guideline, right?
Colleen Moore (00:12:55): Right. Exactly. The 2000 calorie diet for me would make me lose weight because, or make me gain weight because I am too short to eat that many calories a day.
Mark Shilling (00:13:07): Right. But that standard was based on decades of research, peer reviewed well-qualified abundant research, even if it has some flaws or some nuances in it. This new document is revising the standard down for men from two drinks per day to one per day.
Colleen Moore (00:13:32): That’s a significant shift. It’s like a 50% reduction in what is deemed “moderate drinking.”
Mark Shilling (00:13:40): They’ve made no recommendation on changing the standard for women. So they’re bringing the men’s standard down to equal the woman’s standard. In a lot of cases that might be fair and equitable – and, it might even be true in science, that THAT is correct. But what they’ve done here, if you read through that chapter, it sounds like – almost by their own admission – they didn’t have enough qualified data to make this recommendation. So they kind of made it up
Colleen Moore (00:14:15): The recommendation first and get the science to (hopefully) follow up later.
Mark Shilling (00:14:20): It sounds like, and I’ve looked through this chapter, I’ve read part of it. I haven’t read the whole thing, word for word. My understanding is they are relying on the results of exactly one study to make this change despite decades of studies and research saying, otherwise. The question, what can you do about it? Probably nothing because the deadline for comments is midnight tonight. Nobody’s gonna see this until next week, but I will tell you, I have written comments that I will be submitting later. ACSA has submitted comments. There are by my understanding, about 24,000 comments that have been submitted,
Colleen Moore (00:15:07): I submitted a comment through, I think Spirits United sent out a thing about it. So I did that.
Mark Shilling (00:15:15): Lots of comments being submitted. I don’t know when it will be final or what will happen. But if there’s any silver lining in this, I would say that have – or I’d rather ask you the question. Have you ever met anyone who was aware of the guidelines for drinks per day, who actually gave a hoot about it?
Colleen Moore (00:15:41): It’s fair.
Mark Shilling (00:15:45): I dont think it will change. I do think it is a legitimate scientific question to ask: is there, or should there be, a limit on alcohol consumption? Or a guideline on how much within some period of time or something is good or bad for you? But let’s do it based on real science and evidence, not just make up a number and then try and justify it.
Colleen Moore (00:16:10): Well, that is definitely enough to keep our plates full, but you promised to talk about some tariffs and even direct to consumer sales, but we might have to do that in another episode.
Mark Shilling (00:16:25): Let’s do that in another episode and kind of spread it out a little bit. And it’s even, I may have better more up-to-date information on both of those topics next time.
Colleen Moore (00:16:38): Good. Well, thanks for stopping by with that bright and sunny news from the legislative arena. And we’ll talk with you again soon. Thanks so much, Mark.
Colleen Moore (00:16:52): Mark’s going to be joining us a little more often with quick legislative updates, just like this one, if something is happening in your part of the world, that should be covered on our show. Make sure you hit me up via email.
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Colleen Moore (00:17:50): With all the apocalyptic scenes happening outside of our windows these days, another brutal fire season in the Western us category, four hurricanes in Louisiana and Texas. We’ve got record droughts and partly scattered flooding and other areas of the country. I thought it would be a good idea to focus on what we can do now to better prepare for resiliency in the future. What better way to do that than to talk with someone that has been there and lived to tell the tale. Our next segment today comes from Craig Englehorn of Spirit Hound out of Lyons, Colorado. Now, let me set the scene for you in September, 2013, a cold front stalled over the front range of Colorado and dumped torrential rain that was described at the time as biblical in a bonafide 100-year storm. The amount of precipitation on Northern Colorado broke all precipitation records and the Loveland Dam and flooded North Northern Colorado with over 13,000 acre feet of water, nine people died. Thousands of people lost their home Spirit Hound located in Lyons, CO was right in the middle of that disaster. Craig Englehorn is here today to talk about the emergency prep lessons that they learned from their hard won experience of surviving that massive flood in 2013, how they recovered and what plans they have in place now to face the uncertainty in the future.
Colleen Moore (00:19:21): So how has everything up there in Lyons today?
Craig Englehorn (00:19:26): Everything is beautiful. It’s a gorgeous day. It’s awesome.
Colleen Moore (00:19:29): So tell me a little bit about how it was a few years ago with the horrible rains and then resulting dam break at Loveland and then ridiculous flooding.
Craig Englehorn (00:19:46): Yeah, ridiculous flooding is right. I mean, I think there were what five or six canyons that were severely flooded and we’re at the bottom of two of them – the Saint Vrain North and South Saint Vrain rivers. We left that Wednesday evening closing up having had customers in and our phones all blew up with flood alerts. Nobody made fun of it or anything, but we didn’t expect what we got. Ultimately I ended up spending the night here. My truck didn’t start when I went to leave. That was about midnight or so. If I would have looked around a little bit – like at the backyard where the where the river kind of is, I would have realized what was happening. I crashed on the couch and woke up at 5:30 in the morning to this gurgling sound. Which was the, river inside the distillery.
Craig Englehorn (00:20:39): We took a bunch of pictures and looked around and was basically was stuck here for about a day and a half. We ended up with 16 or 18 inches of water in the building. Anybody that’s been in a flood knows – gosh, more than a quarter inch. I mean no amount of flood water is good. You know? Soour whole town was severely disrupted. We lost 20% of the housing in Lyons. The town was evacuated for about a two month period. Initially the checkpoint was outside far enough that we weren’t able to even to get into the business and see what was going on. Once I was able to get out of here and basically couldn’t get back in. It took us a couple of months by the time the town was ready to turn utilities on. We had things kind of ready to go, so we could start back up. Then I’d say maybe we were pretty much back to normal in about six months. It took a long time, it was a long recovery time.
Colleen Moore (00:21:49): What do you guys do now? Do you guys have a disaster plan now?
Craig Englehorn (00:21:57): We do. It’s rough, but we learned a lot. There are some very simple things we could do – and could have done, had we known – just to get a few things off the floor. You know, and I’ve got a whole list of things. If you want me to just go through them of things that I, I think people should do now obviously first of all, flood fire, whatever it might be, you know, everybody’s gotta be safe. If your first responders come in and say, you gotta go… You gotta go. I understand you want to take care of your stuff, but you know, let’s all survive this and we can put it back together later.
Craig Englehorn (00:22:31): One of the things we had was a file cabinet on the first floor. Fortunately, nothing really important was in the bottom drawer, but some really important stuff was in the next drawer up. I was able to grab all of that and bring it upstairs, since I was here. It included things like, our TTB permit, our state permit, all of our reports that we had filed – we were only 10 months old at the time – but it was all of my paperwork which very nearly, completely got destroyed. I did lose paperwork, fortunately it was nothing that was mission critical. So for us we’ve learned some things – like permits, licenses that are on the wall, all of that stuff, is precious. We know where it is. It’s an easy place to get to. I suggest, you put together a bug-out list and if you gotta get out of there quick, grab the most important things like your federal permit so you don’t have to recreate the wheel. I mean, it’s online and all that, but it’s, it’s good to have, right? Your most important paperwork, you know, your licenses on the wall, all of those things that could easily be destroyed or lost, even in the cleanup. We now store our federal paperwork, you know, reports and stuff, in a software system that’s backs up offsite. So if our computer gets destroyed, we haven’t lost our records. If our computer had been soaked well, too bad. Yup. All those spreadsheets are gone.
Craig Englehorn (00:24:05): Another thing that happened to us personally, during the flood was our local post office had moved to Longmont, neighboring town. And during the period of the flood, our state license renewal came to us and in the mess of going to Longmont to pick up our mail and this place just being a mess we lost the renewal form. We just never saw it. And frankly, a license renewal was not anywhere on our brain. So fast forward a little bit that next June I was looking at our license to do an event and realized it had lapsed and called the State. And they said ‘well, you’re a 93 days out, so you’re gonna have to reapply from the beginning.’ So my begging and pleading did no good. They were great in terms of pushing it through. We got the Governor involved and it only took about three days to do 45 days’ worth of work. So they really were very good to us, but a good example of keep on top of that kind of stuff. Even though you’re scooping mud have somebody to take care of your mail. Have a list in an easy place of when your renewals come up. When your sales tax renewal or whatever your licenses might be. So you don’t lose track of them.
Craig Englehorn (00:25:28): Um yeah. If it’s a water issue, list of stuff that you can just move off the ground, up to a higher floor. Up onto a couple pallets. One pallet in our case, wasn’t high enough. So, grain, sugar, we had bulk labels on pallets. Anything on pallets got destroyed.
Craig Englehorn (00:25:50): Find a way to try to protect your revenue stream. In our case, we were able to ship a pallet of gin to our distributor that we had produced product that was high enough [on a shelf]. It was all dry and nice because, the bills they keep coming in. Some things will get waived. The federal government will let you get by in your tax payments and things like that. They’ll, they’ll give you some leniency. I think our mortgage company actually was good to us as well. A lot of other things… our electric bill scope kept coming in. Our gas bill – we didn’t have any gas – but we still got a bill for it. You have to cashflow, somehow. The other thing that we did was… We were right next to, the checkpoint coming into Lyons. People could, kind of, get to us. So we did cash sales, you know, writing things down on a piece of paper. We had no computer, no POS system. Every dollar we got was critical to keeping the place alive in terms of the cashflow. Everybody should go double-check their insurance policies and see what’s covered and see what’s not. We had flood insurance. We were super lucky with that because the FEMA maps had just changed about 6-months before the flood. So lucky for us, we were forced to get insurance. And we did, and it saved our butts. But what we didn’t do is we didn’t attach that insurance as a rider on our business insurance. The building, the property, the things that were mortgaged – that was covered. But no loss of business expenses or business income. , No the grain, we threw away all that stuff. None of it was covered. Even though we did at least get the money we needed to rebuild the building. We took a pretty sizable hit and it slowed our growth down significantly because we were only 10 months old when the flood hit. We weren’t filling barrels of whiskey very fast for that next year because we had to pay all these bills. It cost us to get our stuff back together.
Craig Englehorn (00:28:06): Some other kinds of practical things that you won’t think about as the disaster is starting, especially I know in California, you know, power is going on and off things like that. You need to isolate your equipment electrically. If you have three-phase equipment, three phase pumps, get that stuff turned off or set it up with breakers that detect the loss of one phase and drop the other two. So you don’t just burn up motors or compressors steam boilers, if you have a steam boiler and it’s going to be down for a period of time they usually have some pretty intricate instructions about purging them, right? So you drain them say you’re in an area it’s gonna be cold. You got a drain it’s gonna freeze. And rather than letting it sit with oxygen and corrode, you purge them with nitrogen to make sure everything’s okay. So if your boiler’s gonna be down for a month or two and empty you don’t want it just sitting there rotting away while you’re gone.
Craig Englehorn (00:29:02): Pragmatically, secure your premises against looting. Unfortunately, at these times, people come out of the woodwork and take your stuff. In our case, we couldn’t even get to the building for the first week or so. Luckily for us, the National Guard checkpoint was directly across the street from us. Lieutenant Curtis took pride and he paid attention to our stuff. He gave people crap over here. A couple of times they were in our parking lot. He was like, ‘what are you doing? What are you guys here for?’ So that may mean getting a person [from your team] on-site or something because the last thing you want is to lose your assets when you’re already down and out.
Colleen Moore (00:29:46): Those are great tips.
Craig Englehorn (00:29:48): A couple more things real quick. One thing that worked really well for us get ahold of cleanup crews immediately Get ahold of contractors immediately. You won’t think you’re ready. Find drywall crews and whatever it might be, call them first. If you’re first in line, you will get your business back up faster than others. We were lucky that we did that and it worked extremely well for us.
Craig Englehorn (00:30:10): During the cleanup everybody needs food and water and if your town has been burned or flooded or whatever, there’s probably not a place to eat or get water. So it might even be worth having a little stash of emergency water and some MREs [Meals Ready to Eat], honestly. It wouldn’t cost much and would help in the short term. In that vein, I never thought in my life I would be eating Red Cross lunches or Salvation Army lunches. At the other end of the charity, if you will. So I suggest that we all support those organizations. You never know when you might be the recipient. It was a godsend for us in our little town. Because we would have to drive 20 miles to go get food if they weren’t right here and then deal with the checkpoints and all that stuff as well.
Colleen Moore (00:31:03): My family had a house fire and they had a home-based business. I was in the process of actually moving out to Colorado 20 years ago. They had lightning strike the house and blow out all of the outlets, which then caught everything like curtains and bedspreads and stuff on fire. Having gone through a fire and lost all of that stuff my heart goes out to everybody in California because it’s like this horrible combination of impending disasters, like you would have for a hurricane, on top of power outages, on top of a forest fire. Do you know what I mean? It’s like all of those things all rolled up into one. These are really great tips For a fire a fireproof safe is probably a good idea. Again also probably getting that stored up off the floor so that you are fire and water resistant. You can also get them waterproof. Keeping the water away from it is probably a better idea. So tell me about you. So you were only 10 months old. How big is your distillery? You’d gotten everything started. What products were you producing at the time?
Craig Englehorn (00:32:36): Okay. At that time, we had produced six barrels of whiskey, filled. We produced a gin, vodka and we had a coffee liqueur. And then in our tasting room, we were doing some infusions to do other cocktails and things. So we were just getting off the ground. I think we might’ve had our moonshine product, which is basically the whiskey, you know, before the barrels. We were relatively small, we had just started distributing with the distributor. We had been self-distributing from the beginning. But we were a pretty small footprint in the front range of Colorado here. I don’t even know what we packed for cases that year.
Colleen Moore (00:33:21): So you had about six barrels, was there anything that you could have done in advance? You started hearing the gurgling sound and the river is literally in the distillery. I think the thing that made that, the disaster that it was was the dam breaking, right?
Craig Englehorn (00:33:47): For us, we were not in the path of that. We were lucky that we didn’t get that particular bump of water. I watched the water go up and down all day long and all night long. I was in here for a day and a half, or so. It generally was lurking around two feet deep on the outside of the front of the building. Sometimes it would come up a little, sometimes it would be down a little. Kind of gross to think about it.
Colleen Moore (00:34:21): Yeah. All the stuff that that floodwater brings in with it is really gross as well. Like you, you look at these pristine mountain streams, right. But when they get moving and they kick up all the silt and they pick up detrius and debris and garbage and houses and things that it wasn’t really supposed to touch and it goes and touches all that and it starts bringing it downstream. It is a mess to clean up. So I’m glad you guys got through it. How long do you think it was between, I guess maybe the National Guard arriving with the checkpoints to opening back up full, full strengths.
Craig Englehorn (00:35:02): Opening back up full-strength was probably three or four months. We did do a Halloween party. You know, we had a port-a-potty, we had no running water. We used a bucket for a dump sink. We just did donations. We put up a jar – we’ll give you drinks. It was kind of cathartic for the town. People needed something and people showed up in droves. It was a huge party. I think people really appreciated the chance to forget about the fact that we’re cleaning up the mess. But, you know, immediately after the party we had to continue cleaning up the mess. We didn’t really open until late November, early December. I was really trying, we had to replace our boiler. We had all this stuff to do, and we worked very hard to get everything done so that when the utilities got turned on, we were actually ready for it. Getting those contractors in, to put the walls back, to get it ready. The cleanup crew to come in and just gut everything and dry it all out. And then, we were just looking from one room into the other because everything was gone.
Colleen Moore (00:36:18): How much of the drywall did they have to take off? Did they do the thing where they only took the drywall four-feet off the floor? You’ve got historic dry wall, everything from four feet up. And four-feet down is all new because it had to be.
Craig Englehorn (00:36:35): That’s exactly what you got. And back in our barrel room, you can see it. There’s paint from four-feet up and there’s, maybe, primer – or maybe not. I think it’s just mud and tape still back there. There’s still one garage door that has a dirt line on it. We just never cleaned it off. People come in for tours and its like ‘yeah, right there. That’s how deep the water was.’ I think it took probably about six months for everything to come back. And, you know, you were talking about the flood water being disgusting. One of our problems was the town’s sewer plant is directly upstream from us.
Colleen Moore (00:37:15): Yes. That is an issue.
Craig Englehorn (00:37:17): It was gross. It smelled.
Colleen Moore (00:37:19): Yeah, it’s one of those things where you’ve got to have the rubber boots and that plastic Tyvek body suit starts to look really good, you know? Well, what did you do with your six barrels of whiskey? Did they have to dispose of it or did you make it out alive?
Craig Englehorn (00:37:38): It made it out alive. We had, in fact, I still have the first barrel we ever produced, which is one of those flood barrels. And we did a release in August of 2015 of five of the first six barrels and generated some buzz because they were flood survivors, you know, like the tornado whiskey. There’ll be barrel-warehouse-falling-down-whiskey and all kinds of stuff in Kentucky. But we had a barrel of rum that was pretty young. It was only four or five months. And again, we need cashflow, right? We, we had not had any revenue going on for a couple of months. So we designated this as flood rum. We had the local fire protection district come by and sign the first two cases of bottles. And we use those as a fundraiser. We auctioned them off.
Craig Englehorn (00:38:28): The first bottle went for a thousand dollars. All that money went to the fire department. They lost a building, an entire building, in the flood. We ended up raising basically $10,000 for the fire department, just off of that one barrel of whiskey or rum. I’m sorry, flood rum. And that was kind of our was a little bit of our, feel-good give back out of this whole mess. You know, I was happy that we did it It made us feel good to do it, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.
Colleen Moore (00:39:01): So do you do something every year or every five years for them? Or how does that work into Spirit Hounds program, I guess, with the community? Is it part of it?
Craig Englehorn (00:39:12): We we basically set a timeframe that once they got theirnew building built and everything which took three or four years, the fire protection district was our charity of choice. So if we did anything and raised money for charity, the donation all went to the fire protection district.
Craig Englehorn (00:39:34): Those are good friends to have.
Colleen Moore (00:39:36): Yes, yes.
Craig Englehorn (00:39:37): You know, they didn’t come and get me, but I’m not holding that against them.
Colleen Moore (00:39:42): They were… Maybe busy with other people?
Craig Englehorn (00:39:45): They were. Yeah.
Colleen Moore (00:39:47): So give me a synopsis of Lyons. Because Lyons is a small town in Colorado. I imagine lots of people have not been there. So give us kind of like a snapshot of what the town looks like.
Craig Englehorn (00:40:02): Lyons is a little Old West town. Maybe 2,000 people in the city limits right now. When I moved here 20 years ago it was about 1500 people. Two blocks worth of Main Street. It’s in the crack of the foothills on the way up to Estes Park. We’re about 15 miles North of Boulder. It’s historically been a quarry town. Sored sandstone comes from Lyons. It’s kind of famous for us. If you go down to the Red Rocks Amphitheater, a lot of people nationwide know about Red Rocks and you sit on the sandstone seats. That is all Lyons sandstone that was put down there in 1933 by the Works Progress Administration. Other than that, Lyons is a lot of families that have lived here for years and years. It’s a little town where everybody knows your business. After the disaster, it’s the kind of town where everybody comes to help you. We had an incredible volunteer organization and a couple of people that put that together and stuck with it for years. I got to work with them on several Saturdays, doing things like relandscaping somebody’s front yard. Putting a sealant on their basement foundation after the place got rebuilt. People would go muck out mud from basements. We had a lot of engineers and surveyors and construction crews come through Lyons that were working on the highways up here and working in the town. And because we were right by the checkpoint, they would pull into our parking lot and circle their wagons and get a plan ready for what they’re going to do that day. I talked to a lot of people from all over the country who had done, you know, hurricane Katrina and Sandy and all these other natural disasters. And they, the universal message I got from them was they were really impressed with the attitude of the people in Lyons and just the effort, everybody was still laughing and their sleeves were rolled up and they were helping each other out. We’ve benefited from that as well. We had Lyons volunteers come to the distillery and roll up their sleeves and clean up crap. Literally.
Colleen Moore (00:42:37): So tell me about the products that you guys are making now and kind of, I guess how far you’ve come as the Phoenix rose from the ashes, if you will, or the floodwaters, however that works.
Craig Englehorn (00:42:50): We have come a long ways. We’re one of the older distilleries in Colorado which is kind of funny to say, because, you know, I think the oldest one is 16 or 17 years old. We were seven maybe going on eight years old now in terms of like, when we very first started trying to get our paperwork and all that stuff. So now we’re producing our flagship product is a straight malt whiskey, which is a hundred percent malted barley all from the Alamosa area, the San Luis Valley and Southern Colorado. Our whiskey is, and always has been a 100% Colorado product. We do that as a single barrel expression, exclusively. We don’t blend. We don’t marry any barrels together. Except one time, by accident. Things happen. Basically, that is our flagship. We do all full-size barrels 53-gallon whiskey barrels. So far all a number three char. That’s a pretty outstanding whiskey. We’ve gotten a lot of kudos. We do well with Jim Murray, The Whiskey Bible. We get medals whenever we enter things. So our fans love us, we have some pretty rabid fans, which is, you know, ties with being “spirit hounds.” I guess. In addition to that, we have a specialty whiskey that we do. We call it Colorado, honey. We have a collaboration with the local apiary up in Berthoud, Colorado, about 30 minutes from here. We empty a whiskey barrel, to bottle, and we give them the barrel. Then, they whiskey-barrel-age, honey. They put 300 pounds of honey into the barrel for three months. Rotate it around for three months. Then, when they dump the honey out, we get the barrel back. So we take another barrel of whiskey that it would be two and a half or so years old. So not just like brand new whiskey, still qualifies as “straight.” It goes into the twice used barrel (once for whiskey, once for honey) for another three months or so. Because you know, a honey jar – you can’t get all the honey out of it. It’s not like we’re pouring honey into the whiskey, but we are getting this lovely honey essence and a little sweetness from just what was stuck to the inside of the barrel. That’s been an outstanding product. We don’t have a lot of it. It’s a little bit rare. I could sell a lot more if I could make more.
Colleen Moore (00:45:05): You need to tell those bees to get on it!
Craig Englehorn (00:45:08): I know, right? I know in a different direction we have currently three different gins. Our signature Gin the hallmark of which is the Juniper berries are picked locally. So I have a deal with my customers: you bring a little baggy of Juniper berries, and I will give you a gin drink for free.
Colleen Moore (00:45:28): Nice. That’s a good motivation.
Craig Englehorn (00:45:32): Absolutely. My best Juniper picker is a wonderful woman by the name of Eleanor. She’s 86 years old, and she picks Juniper berries and cleans them and puts them in fat quart bags, stuffed full, and brings them down. And I just give her a bottle of gin because she doesn’t really like to sit at the bar. She’s amazing. Our second gin is basically the same gin, but we run it through the botanicals 2x. So it’s doubled distilled. We do a vapor infused gin. So we have a basket that the Juniper botanicals hang inside the column. And our third gin is a barrel finished version of our original gin which is a brand new 53 gallon barrel. We put the gin in it at about 135 proof or so. And give it only six months. We don’t want to have the wood kind of overpower the botanicals. Our gin is kind of delicate to begin with. It makes pretty nice marriage. We get a lot of super like nutmeggy/Christmas-spice kind of characters out of it. Good for the holiday season. We have a rum, as I mentioned before. We have a Creme de Cacao. Our newest version is using some single origin, Dominican cacao nibs. Fair trade and all that happy stuff. We have. We have Sambuca, we call it Colorado Sambuca it is an infusion of elderberries and star anise pods. It is outstanding. It’s deep, burgundy color and beautiful and wonderful.
Colleen Moore (00:47:08): So tell me about Sambuca. I’ve heard of it before, but I don’t know about it at all. So tell me about, I guess it generally, and then how your product kind of fits into that general.
Craig Englehorn (00:47:23): Okay. Sambuca is an Italian liqueur it’s either named out of the elderberries that are in it – the Latin is Sambucus Negra or from the town of Sambuca, Italy. I don’t know, which is which? Who knows how that rolled out?
Colleen Moore (00:47:42): I feel like both could be true or it’s probably some of both. Right?
Craig Englehorn (00:47:46): Yeah. I would agree. Sambuca typically is an anise-based liqueur. So, that kind of black licorice type character, right? Which a lot of old spirits – Anisette, our rock, all of these old Ouzo… Mediterranean spirits typically used anise. The addition of elderberries in our particular version, that it’s an infusion. We get this nice, not really sweetness, from the berries, but this berry-thickness and berry-flavor that sort of backs it up and makes the anise flavor much more complex. It’s super-delicious. There are three varieties of Sambuca. White, which is clear , which is distilled. Romano Sambuca is probably the big national or international brand that people are familiar with. And then there’s a Red Sambuca, which has some red color from the berries. And then there’s a Black Sambuca, which is really deep, deep – red actually, which is probably what ours is *technically*, but we call it a Red Sambuca and we use the name, Colorado Sambuca for two reasons. First we have to use Colorado because the TTB wants us to use a geographical designation that shows it’s not Italian. And second, “colorado”, in some versions of Spanish means the color red. So it is red Sambuca and it’s from Colorado.
Colleen Moore (00:49:13): Perfect. And it’s that red sandstone in Lyons, it’s all coming together, right?
Craig Englehorn (00:49:20): Yep, absolutely. Absolutely.
Colleen Moore (00:49:22): Well, Craig, you’ve given us some really great tips on disaster prep. And I really want to thank you for coming on our show.
Craig Englehorn (00:49:31): Thank you so much for having me. I hope that, you know, my list of stuff helps someone and as people who have gone through this kind of disaster, our hearts go out to you. It’s terrible. We feel your pain,
Colleen Moore (00:49:42): But the good thing is, is that you can rebuild and it is possible. It’s a long road, but it is one that is often traveled and there is a path to success. So thank you again for your tips. And we will talk with you soon.
Fermentis Sponsor (00:49:59): Distilling Craft is brought to you by Dalkita, a group of architects and engineers who specialize in designing craft distilleries across the U S more information is available at our website DALKITA.com. Now let’s get back to the show
Colleen Moore (00:50:21): In your current period of extreme social and environmental stress. Let’s take a moment to thought about how we can prepare ourselves to survive the unexpected though. Honestly, at this point in 2020, can we even be surprised anymore? A big thank you to Craig for his thoughts and lessons learned on what was important in his distillery set up next up. We have another story from Northern Colorado, B Squared is in Berthoud, Colorado, and they produce a whiskey barrel aged honey with used barrels, from several suppliers, including Spirit Hound, the product won, a 2020 good food award and is one of the items, our survey winners from earlier in the show, got in their prize packs. Beth talks with us about developing this product and the state of bees in the Rocky Mountain region. Let’s jump into it.
Colleen Moore (00:51:14): Beth Conrey and James Erickson are here today with us from B Squared Apiaries out in Berthoud, Colorado, to talk with us about their barrel-aged honey, their whiskey-barrel-aged honey. James, tell me about the idea came from for the whiskey-barrel-aged honey.
James Erickson (00:51:38): So we were looking for some new infusions to add to our line. Whiskey-Barrel-Aging, has been a big trend in the past few years. So I heard someone doing a bunch of things like pickles, aging pickles, in a whiskey barrel. Then, I figured we could probably do our honey. I tried to find and see if anyone else was doing it and I couldn’t see anyone doing it, but I found a bunch of whiskey barrel aged maple syrups. So that kind of gave me the confidence that it would work. And then we went from there, we got our first barrel from Stranahan’s and, you know, kind of did a test process on it. And then got our ratios down to where we wanted them and started it for real.
Colleen Moore (00:52:20): Awesome. So are you still using Stranahan’s barrels or are you using other facilities?
James Erickson (00:52:26): No. So they were there just for our first test. Right now our partners are Spirit Hound out of Lyons. Law’s Whiskey House in Denver and Branch & Barrel out of Centennial. So those are our three partners right now that we are getting barrels from.
Colleen Moore (00:52:42): Okay. So what does the process for this honey look like? Give us an idea – you get the barrel at your facility, and then what happens?
James Erickson (00:52:50): So we get the barrel at our facility. We have them on these special really nice custom made racks that have wheels on them that we can spend them on. So we popped the corks of them fill it up with about 300 pounds of honey. And then every other day or so we turned the barrels and, you know, kind of get it all soaked in throughout all the wood. And then after the a hundred days, we pop the cork again, drain all the honey back out of it and filter all the char from it. And then that is the final product.
Colleen Moore (00:53:19): And so there obviously is some honey that remains in the barrel. What happens to that?
James Erickson (00:53:26): Yes. Well, for Spirit Hound, for example, we leave purposely about five to 10 pounds of honey in there, and then they take the honey soaked barrel and they finish their two-year whiskey in it for about two months. So it’s like a honey barrel finished whiskey. So that’s what they’re doing with them. Anyway,
Colleen Moore (00:53:46): That’s a unique finishing for a spirit and it’s like a kind of a good way I think, to get around any additives in your product. If you take the whiskey out and then you put honey back in and you take the honey out and then you put the whiskey back in… What? It’s in the barrel! So that’s clever crafty, I think. Yes, absolutely. So do you ever do branding with the different spirits houses? So laws, for instance, is there a law’s whiskey barrel aged honey label or is it just general?
Beth Conrey (00:54:23): I’ll answer that. We have several different branding opportunities that we have with it, currently Law’s, Centennial, and Branch & Barrel all have our branding on the front and a top label that distinguishes which distillery barrel the product was aged in. And those top labels have their brands on them. And then we’ve actually had quite a few folks approach us for kind of a reversal of that, where they want a product that is just in their tasting rooms, not available anywhere else. In which case they’re doing the primary branding. And we’re sticking a top label on that has our logo on it.
Colleen Moore (00:55:14): Are you doing that just in Colorado or elsewhere in the country as well?
Beth Conrey (00:55:19): Just Colorado.
Colleen Moore (00:55:22): Cutting the path, I think for other distilleries elsewhere, if you’ve ever been to Kentucky to do the bourbon trail, they have every distillery has a bourbon flavored truffle that is specific to their distillery. And so while you get a truffle, everywhere you go, that is flavored with their product every one of them has that, that truffle. And so you could be the next, you could be the craft version of the chocolate truffle for the bourbon trail.
Beth Conrey (00:55:55): That’s a good idea.
Colleen Moore (00:55:57): So tell me a little bit about your background, Beth.
Beth Conrey (00:56:00): So I’m retired from institutional food and I have a master’s in business administration from the university of New Mexico. And when my kids got to be in about middle school, one of them was sort of hell on wheels. And so I came home to be the maintainer. And at that time we had some beehives and then we started getting more beehives and then we found out we really enjoyed it. And so about eight years ago, we got very serious about working at as a business and branding, et cetera. And so we trademarked last year on the logo and the name, and then we’re trademarking this year on our new tagline, which is “exponentially better.”
Colleen Moore (00:56:48): And so it looks like you have lots of different kinds of infused products. Have you done anything with CBD yet?
Beth Conrey (00:56:57): We have some CBD in the queue. We have just released three more infusions. So the first infusion we did and which is why Jamie decided he’d like to try whiskey-barrel-aged is because of the success of the first one. And the first one is a Rose-pedal-infused honey, which is a collaboration with Happy Heart Farm CSA up in Fort Collins. She gives us the Rose pedals and we steep them in the honey and then strain them out. And it’s a lovely product and it won a national award called the Good Food Award. And so the success of that prompted us to look at some other options. So the whiskey-barrel-aged Jamie’s been out for what? Year and a half now? About a year and a half now. And then just this week, we are releasing three new infusions. We have got a saffron-vanilla, an espresso, and a fennel-pollen. And Jamie’s latest iteration is the espresso.
Colleen Moore (00:58:13): Tell me a little bit about what production would look like for those infusions. Clearly you can’t have a big barrel of Rose pedals, at least they don’t typically come that way. So how are you infusing them? How are you infusing the botanicals into the honey product?
Beth Conrey (00:58:34): Yeah, we are using just the buckets. So when we produce our honey, we put it into 60 pound buckets and then we work the ratios on those infusions that we’re doing until we get it the way we like it. Then we just strain out the infused material and pour it into their respective packaging.
Colleen Moore (00:59:00): It sounds sticky. Is it a sticky operation?
Beth Conrey (00:59:03): We’re pretty good about keeping it really unsticky because it’s a bad scene if it is.
Colleen Moore (00:59:10): So how did you, so how has your business grown, I guess in the time that you’ve started it, do you have, like, you did a Ted talk a little bit ago, maybe a year or, two – you had 60 hives at that time. Tell me what you’ve got now.
Beth Conrey (00:59:26): We are at about a hundred hives now and we’re aiming for 200, but in addition to our own production, we buy and sell a lot of other people’s honey. So we are, we’re a double digit growth and have been forever. Hopefully this year, I think we’ll do about a half million gross.
Colleen Moore (00:59:50): So tell me a little bit about the varieties of bees that we have here in Colorado. I was surprised to learn that we have more than just a few. So tell me, I guess, which varieties you work with and some of the others that are maybe more helpful in the agricultural sector.
Beth Conrey (01:00:12): Okay. So in Colorado we have documented 1,111 species of bees here over 950 of which are considered to be residents. CU is just completing a major survey Southwest, Colorado. And we can anticipate those numbers going up substantially. The rest of those bees do not produce honey. And the reason they do not produce honey is because they are not colony bees. It is a colony that produces honey. So all the rest of those bees are solitary bees with the exception of bumblebees, which form a very small, small nest, but not a colony, not to the extent that honeybees do. So honeybees numbers in the summertime are roughly between 60 and 100,000 insects and bumblebees at their peak are at about three hundred.
Colleen Moore (01:01:14): So you’re all of your hives are chemical free. Correct. Tell me a little bit about the difference, I guess, between a chemical free hive and one that would have chemicals. Are they all intrinsically chemical free?
Beth Conrey (01:01:29): No. So beekeeping is like any other aspect of agriculture. You can run it like an industrialized operation, or you can run it like an organic operation. So we run ours, chemical free, which are organic acids for treatment of various diseases. They’re all certified organic, but we cannot keep our bees organically because we are in an agricultural area that is not operated exclusively organically. So bees travel two and a half mile radius from the hive. That is about is about 26,000 acres and there is no place in Colorado that is 26,000 acres of organic ag. So we can’t make a claim to organic honey production, but we can manage our bees as best we can without chemicals and pesticides and cetera in there.
Colleen Moore (01:02:31): So are there places in the country that can do organic honey?
Beth Conrey (01:02:35): No. Not in any quantity. All of the organic honey in this country is imported from Brazil.
Colleen Moore (01:02:43): Tell me about the type of bee, I guess, that you’re working with. Are you working with a couple of species? One species?
Beth Conrey (01:02:52): We work with mutts.
Colleen Moore (01:02:54): Mutts. I have one under my desk right now, but it’s a mutt canine, not a bee.
Beth Conrey (01:02:59): Yeah. So I don’t give much credence to races of bees. And so we have the ability to control our production Queens via other methodologies. And so we do that.
Colleen Moore (01:03:17): And so talk to me about colony loss. I believe that’s the right term. You had mentioned that it was averaging over 30% a year over the last decade. Is that kind of what you’re seeing? 30% of your bees dying off per season?
Beth Conrey (01:03:35): We hope that’s all we lose per season. We have had years where we have lost substantially more and we have no years where we have lost substantially less anymore. And so we like to say that there are five PS that are influencing bee health. So the first is poor forage, which is sort of a stretch on a P, but nonetheless, so poor forage is lack of flowers in agricultural areas. It’s edge to edge monoculture plantings in urban areas. It’s turf. So we do not have enough flowers in our landscape to feed bees properly. The second is pesticides. Pesticides are used ubiquitously in both urban and agricultural environments. They’re used unnecessarily and they are wreaking havoc with the natural world and bugs being at the bottom of the food chain are paying dearly for that use. So the third thing is something called a pest. And in this particular case with honeybees, that pest is called a Varroa mite. And a Varroa mite is a insect that pierces the exoskeleton of the bee. And if you are a human and you stay up too late and eat like crap and don’t get enough sleep, and then somebody comes along and you get a gaping wound, you don’t heal very well. Well, the same thing happens with bees. They do not have the wherewithal with their poor diets and their pesticide exposures to adequately defend themselves against the pest. So that pest, because it’s a relatively large pest on a on the insect, it is incredibly damaging. And that wound then allows “P” #4 in – which is pathogens. So you have these synergistic interactions between the first three that causes pathogens that are normally present in the hive to rise to various levels. And then that is just another blow to that colony. So those are the four that are commonly put out and I add a fifth to that, and that is politics. And it is because we know all of those things are messing with bee health and we don’t do anything about it.
Colleen Moore (01:06:24): All of those things mess with people health too. So I’m sad to hear that the bees have just as good of a health plan as the rest of us. We definitely have a culture right now. I think that is sick and, and is focusing on the wrong things. And it’s making everybody stressed out, ill, unwell, unhealthy.
Beth Conrey (01:06:47): I think my little sister says it best with respect to human health and we have traded cheap food for expensive healthcare. Okay.
Colleen Moore (01:06:54): That’s true. We have. So tell me a little bit about maybe some better plant choices, I guess, that we could make here in Colorado as far as flowers. Is there some flowers that are better than others or is it just to a level of need where any flower is a good flower for bees?
Beth Conrey (01:07:16): Well, certainly any flower is a good flower for certain bees, but if you really want to take care of those 1100 species of bees, then we need native flowers. So the general rule is plant flowers, don’t spray them.
Colleen Moore (01:07:37): And then talk to me a little bit about monoculture. I think you touched on it a little bit. You live in Berthoud, which is surrounded by farmland. And so I would think one type of monoculture would be like a crop that’s growing on several acres, thousands of acres here in Colorado, we grow lots of cereal grains sunflowers wheat, things like that.
Beth Conrey (01:08:04): Correct. So, so in my area we have wheat, we have corn, we have barley, we have alfalfa, we have sugar beets day. Any one of those that is providing any nutrition to insects is alfalfa. And if alfalfa is being grown for cattle, grass, alfalfa is a beautiful purple flowering forage plant that is fed for to cattle and horses. If it’s being grown for cattle feed, then it gets cut at maximum protein content, which is 10% bloom. So the only thing that blooms out of those six species is the one they cut as soon as it blooms.
Colleen Moore (01:08:53): So, and then I guess an urban example of that you covered earlier would be turf, which is the lowest food producing thing that we have in America. And it takes up a ton of water, a ton of pesticides, and it doesn’t give you a tremendous amount in return.
Colleen Moore (01:09:10): Correct. There is no value to turf, to any other insects, but turf pests.
Colleen Moore (01:09:17): So what would be a good alternative that would help with the bees?
Beth Conrey (01:09:21): Yeah. To help? Well, yeah, we need to, we need to reduce turf in Colorado from the water usage standpoint. But we here at our house, we have Dutch Clover and we have thyme.
Colleen Moore (01:09:35): And those are flowering herbs. Right.
Beth Conrey (01:09:39): Clover is a flowering. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s an herb forb I guess… We use Dutch Clover. So it’s a real short growing flowering plant, same thing with the thyme. So it doesn’t need to be mowed and it’s beautiful and it’s food for bugs.
Colleen Moore (01:09:59): And so what would you suggest? And I think that I struggle with this in my tiny little yard here in Englewood. Getting that three seasons of flowers to support bees. Do you have any practical tips for approaching that?
Beth Conrey (01:10:16): There are the Colorado State Beekeepers Association has produced a publication in conjunction with the Colorado master gardeners and some other business partners BBB Seed in Boulder, and then some other beekeeping organizations that is a list of plants that provide three seasons of nectar and pollen to insects. So it starts mostly with shrubs, dandelions are huge in the spring. And then we go into, you know, your summer blooming stuff is pretty much anything. And then fall blooming, you start getting into again, shrubs, trees. These are people don’t think of those things. They think of flowers, but, but trees are huge nectar and pollen providers.
Colleen Moore (01:11:11): Well, we have at least one crab Apple and one Apple tree that we’re are donating to the cause of feeding bees in our neighborhoods. So
Beth Conrey (01:11:20): You better get another apple tree, if you ever want to see apples.
Colleen Moore (01:11:23): We get some small apples as it is. I think there’s another, neighboring apple that, that sneaks its pollen over into ours.
Beth Conrey (01:11:32): Yeah. They have to be cross pollinated.
Colleen Moore (01:11:35): So, and then you also mentioned some things that the state might be able to take a look at doing like roadside planting programs and things like that. Is that something that you’re working on or would like to work on in the state of Colorado?
Beth Conrey (01:11:50): Yeah. So I have a nonprofit that I formed with some other ladies a few years back called people and pollinators action network P pan for short and PPN is a 501C3 that strictly works on pollinator policy issues in Colorado. So we joined with the Colorado Department of Transportation and got together and got the Colorado pollinator highway designated, which is I-76 from Julesburg into the Denver area and planted 13 acres of roadside or 13 miles of roadside last year on that. And then we’ve got a long way to go, but we need we need support from the public. We need support from communities that have these roadways through them and to get more plantings done around the state, but roadsides are a great migratory path for insects. And so it’s a terrific opportunity to get them some nutrition on the road, South and North.
Colleen Moore (01:13:06): Talk to me a little bit about insecticides. They’re all bad. Okay. but is there one, like a noenicitinoids that is particularly troublesome for bees?
Beth Conrey (01:13:21): Yeah. They neonicotinoids is the class of insecticides to which you are referring. So there is a some work being done on trying to limit consumer use of those products. But the bottom line is, is that they are used as seed coatings on nearly every major crop across the country. So if you are a corn or a soy farmer in the Midwest, it is not possible for you to even acquire seeds that do not have an insecticide already pre-applied to them as you can imagine, when you apply an insecticide, a chemically derived insecticide to hundreds of millions of acres, year, after year, after year – we now have an unbelievable resistance problem. They don’t work anymore.
Colleen Moore (01:14:36): So are they developing something that is perhaps more bee friendly or are they going less be friendly?
Beth Conrey (01:14:43): They’re going less be friendly.
Colleen Moore (01:14:45): We do, I do want to tell you that we had somebody on our podcast from the state of New York who has a sister, I think that was doing a doctorate in be entomology. And so they purchased an entire farm in upstate New York in order to do a grain-to-glass distillery, but they’re also doing bee research up there. And so what kind of programs I guess, could a distiller do in the spring, in the summer to help support bee pollination, because clearly they’re important whether you’re making a Brandy with fruit or you’re making cereal grains based product. They’re important so that we can eat and have delicious spirits. What are some, some types of ideas, I guess, for programs we can do in distilleries to support bees?
Beth Conrey (01:15:43): Well, we like to say in the beer business that there’s a B in every beer and there is so the same thing and a distiller glass, right? So I think what anybody can do, not just distillers in particular is to start buying organic. We need to stop the demand for the product. There’s no reason for people to stop supplying the product when people are continuing to demand it. And so we need to rethink some basic tenants of agricultural production and need to pay more for our food. And, and we will have healthier, more nutritious food as a result of that. And we will have better-tasting food as a result of that. And the natural consequence of all that is that you will have better distilling luck with those products also.
Colleen Moore (01:16:53): I know that the honey, I believe it’s the national honey board was also working with the distillers in the last year to try to promote honey being used in their products. Do you sell bulk honey to any distilleries?
Beth Conrey (01:17:10): They just got done doing that. Last year we worked with them on with brewers on a honey tour that they and honey teaching, you know, how to use honey in brewing beers. And we took them to some of our hives down in the Denver Metro area over at the Colorado Convention Center, as part of that, the distillery thing. I’m not certain where it was held, but it was quite recently. So I’m not certain how that’s going to move out through the marketplace. I haven’t had anybody holler at me requesting honey for a particular product. But we, we certainly think this new fennel pollen honey is going to make a terrific gin. And we want to get somebody on board to run a test on that baby.
Colleen Moore (01:18:04): Okay, well, we might have some inquiries and I will definitely send them your way. The last thing I wanted to talk with you about is a lot of people are afraid of bees. And I think that you had mentioned on one of your Ted talks or in your Ted talk that the Western yellow jacket was actually responsible for most of the stings that happened here in Colorado. Are there any tips that you can give us to help people distinguish between the two?
Beth Conrey (01:18:36): Western yellow jackets are a nuisance wasp. They are black and yellow stripy. They are smooth-bodied because they are not pollinators. We have a side-by-side image on the state beekeepers’ website and the two insects do not look remotely alike. So a B is sort of a tanish brownish, very fuzzy, much smaller insect. If you have something that you think is a beehive in your house, it’s generally the first thing that I ask people to tell me is, do you have three or four going out, or do you have a thousand going in and out because a yellow jacket nest doesn’t get up to probably more than 500 to a thousand insects. There are exceptions to that. But generally speaking, whereas honeybee colonies we already mentioned are in the 60 -100K and six in the summertime. So there’s a dramatic difference in the number of people that are dumber people, the number of events, et cetera, entering and exiting a structure. The other thing is, is that bees are incredibly purposeful. So bees are vegetarians. They live on nectar and pollen. Yellow jackets are not vegetarians. And so they are the ones that are nuisances at parties, and they’ll actually, you know, sit on hamburgers and things like that because they are carnivores. And so they have, they’re totally different behaviors, totally different insects. And when a third of your food supply depends on one and not the other, it would be good to know the difference.
Colleen Moore (01:20:28): Yeah. Yeah. That’s probably a good idea to know that. Do you have anything else you want to add to our distillers?
Beth Conrey (01:20:36): We are more than happy to custom brand and work with anybody else. That is interested in working with us. We’ve got racking system built for 12 barrels. So we’ve got room if people want to do some custom labeling for their tasting rooms.
Colleen Moore (01:20:57): So thank you very much for being with us today and telling us about your good food award and your award-winning honey. I’m very interested in the projects that you’re doing with infusions, and I will include all of your information on our show notes page so that the distillers that listen to our podcasts can check you out. All right. Well, it’s wonderful talking with you. Thank you both.
Beth Conrey (01:21:22): You’re welcome. And thanks for finding us and calling us.
James Erickson (01:21:24): Good talking to you!
Colleen Moore (01:21:27): A big thank you to Beth Conrey and the B Squared crew for talking about the challenges the bees are facing in our country. As you’re planning your gardens this winter spare a thought for the bees and add in some native grasses, flowering plants and trees to your mix, help your local bees combat poor forage in your own area by supporting roadside plantings that are friendly to our wing pollinators.
Colleen Moore (01:21:51): I know Beth is also looking for some rum barrels to make their next product iteration. If you’ve got a lead for her, you can reach out to us via our website and we will connect you well, that’s it for this episode of the Distilling Craft podcast. Tune in next time for an interview with one of our own architects here at Dalkita for a robust discussion about designing and building your first distillery, do your best to stay safe out there and remember to support your small businesses by wearing your masks. It’s the key to having an open economy with no more lockdowns.
Colleen Moore (01:22:32): We’ve almost made it through 2020, and there is hope on the horizon. We can do this! We’ve got more new shows and improvements on the way for 2021. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a giant, thank you goes out to you for downloading and listening to this episode of our podcast. Don’t forget to like share, subscribe. Even if you like just a tiny bit of today’s show, it really helps out with our shows vital statistics.
Colleen Moore (01:23:01): If you want more information about this show, go to the show on our website, www.dalkita.com/shownotes where we will have links to the people, places and things mentioned today. There is even a real live transcript of the show to share with all your friends and you can post a short comment for our team to obsess over dissect and even infer your tone and judge your grammar. Our theme music was composed by Jason Shaw and is used under creative comments, attribution 3.0 license. The final shout out goes to the man that puts all of this together. Our sound editor, Daniel Phillips of zero crossing productions until next time, seriously guys stay safe out there. I’m Colleen Moore from Dalkita, and this has been the Distilling Craft podcast.
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