Two Chicago companies–The Goose Island Beer Company & Koval Distillery– have collaborated on a new beer whiskey. Yes, beer whiskey.
It’s a familiar combination in Europe, especially Germany, where it’s called bierbrand or bierschnaps. Here in the U.S., beer whiskey is less well-known but today a limited release of this unusual spirit is hitting store shelves throughout Chicago. It’s also available at the Koval store in Ravenswood.
“When we make whiskey, the first step is to make a mash from grains (like rye, corn and wheat). Beer starts out the same way, usually with hops and barley. In both cases, the mash is fermented. In fact, the liquid that goes into the still after fermentation is called “distiller’s beer,” says Joanna Miller of Koval Distillery. “Distilling is really just taking the process a step further to separate the alcohol from the water – quite literally “distilling” the essence of that beer into a higher proof spirit.”
Goose Island contributed a Belgian-style beer to this new spirit and the result is a sweet-to-savory tasting spirit that Miller says even includes bit of a banana taffy taste.
Goose Island was the first of Chicago’s craft breweries in the modern era. Koval is the city’s first distillery since prohibition. This is the first time two companies have worked together on a joint product.