Last night, Nate and I spent an evening at the 11 Wells Distillery in St. Paul at my friend Beth’s 50th birthday party. She rented out a room for her friends and family. What a fun night we had.
A little bit about 11 Wells Distillery…
Minnesota’s history in spirits is a long as its winters and it all starts with the grain. For over a century the University of Minnesota has developed many breakthroughs that help to make the state one of the nation’s largest producers of grain. One of those many developments was simply titled “Minnesota 13”. This corn was a significant development for our state as it was specifically designed to stand up to the shorter growing season that had hindered other corn varieties, making it the crop of choice for many years.
During prohibition another, more-questionable, use was found for this crop. It became the central ingredient in the infamous ‘Minnesota 13’ moonshine. This moonshine was soon found in all corners of the country, and became highly coveted due to the quality and rare barrel aging process. To preserve this history, 11 Wells will be resurrecting these recipes and with hopes of making it a prominent regional spirit yet again.
Located in the historic Hamm’s Brewery on Minnehaha Avenue in St. Paul, 11 Wells is proud to be part of the revitalization of the Payne Avenue Corridor. 11 Wells will be found in the old Blacksmith and Pipe Shop buildings on the vast Hamm’s site. These buildings are home to the production facility, and in the future, a tasting room and gift shop. They are hoping to have a bar or restaurant on site to compliment their hand-crafted spirits. I bet it will be gorgeous.
Now back to the party….
As most of you know, this year my friends, as well as myself, are all turning 50. Beth wanted to have a little get together to celebrate her big day. She found this distillery and thought it would be a unique way to spend an evening. She knows her friends and family tend to enjoy a beverage, I guess. ha! It was kind of an ‘open-house’ style where people came and went during the night. There served appetizers, which were more like a meal for dinner, and of course, cake. Beth also bought candy that was popular 50 years ago and had these spread out on the tables and these cool barrels which were in the room as drink holders or ‘side tables’.
A couple hours into the evening, it was time for a tour. The man who owns the place (Bob) was with us all night, on hand to answer any questions you might have. He began the tour by sharing this neat distillery that was brought over from Germany. It was very impressive.
This place isn’t very big, but they make whiskey, rum, and bourbon. All of these were available for tasting. They were set out on a table and you could just make your own drinks or try them on their own. Nate tasted the whiskeys and he liked the wheat one. Kind of different. These are not available to buy at the distillery, but are at local liquor stores.
Bob took us into a room which has nothing in it yet, but was describing how they are going to turn it into a tasting room and most likely, gift shop. It is a gorgeous room that was built in the early 1900’s, so he wants to keep it in tact and have that vintage look to it. Lots of brick all around and I imagine it will be fantastic when finished.
Another room that I discovered on my own, looked like a laboratory. This is where all the “mixology” happens. There were many bottles, jugs, and test-tubes all around. They all had unidentifiable labels, such as B6 or S1. Keeping it secret, I guess.
Once they get all their ingredients the way they want them, they go into these barrels. These barrels are much smaller than a beer barrel. Bob says that the smaller size helps the aging process go quicker and picks up the flavoring and coloring of the oak. This room smelled wonderful!
The rest of the evening was spent visiting with wonderful friends. It was like a mini-class reunion. Nate also took advantage of Bob being there and couldn’t resist finding out more about the process of distilling. He also found out that Bob went to Marquette University in Wisconsin. A little connection there.
What a neat idea that Beth had. She is always so good at party planning and of course, being the hostess with the mostess!
Thank you for letting Nate and I share in your wonderful day. Happy 50th Birthday Beth and to many more adventures in your life!