Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka

Industry City Distillery

Down a quiet brick-laid industrial street, on the edge of Sunset Park and Greenwood Brooklyn, lies an undiscovered gem that has the makings of being our very own NYC Willy Wonka factory. But instead of chocolate, the team behind Industry City Distillery is mastering the art of handcrafted sugar beet vodka. And handcrafting their own letter-pressed labels with a reclaimed 1930s machine to boot — Depressingly Awesome indeed!

1930s Letterpress Machine for Handcrafted Vodka Labels

Rich Showing Off the Depressingly Awesome 1930s Letterpress Machine for Handcrafted Labels

You’ve heard the catch-phrases bean-to-bar, grain-to-glass, farm-to-table — these guys are bringing us still-to-spirit. After taking over the 6,000 sq ft. space only six short months ago, the team of six bearded Brooklyn brains have built an in-house kitchen, machine workshop, laboratory, distillery and bottling station to dissect and build the entire process of distilling vodka by hand. And they have their first product run coming to market next week on April 20th — did you hear me when I said this started only six short months ago? Again, Depressingly Awesome. With an intense focus on efficiency and controlling every stage to keep costs low, they have built their own stills to tweak the entire process, using different grades of heat for incoming an outgoing product to share supply and waste lines.

Industry City Distillery Stills

Dave Shows Off the Industry City Distillery Stills and Machine Workshop

Why is this cool? Because lighter alcohol will vaporize at different heat points, they have created a fractional still that enables them to extract different types of alcohols at different heats  and then selectively add these back together for the final product {or handmade cleaning supplies}, wasting nothing. They call these “the cuts” or “the flavor character,” which they are constantly experimenting with to mix at different ratios, producing a range of flavors akin to sweeter, buttery and even rubbery vodkas {I tasted it — it was booty!}. True to the Wonka nature of the tour, we sat down in the handcrafted kitchen for a tasting — beakers lined up in front of us and droppers at the ready to mix and match and see just how quickly a vodka can go from smooth to robust.

And Now for a Vodka Tasting

And Now for a Vodka Tasting

Tom, Our Fermented Friend

Tom, Our Fermented Well-Loved Friend

To put this production efficiency-flavor controlled process in perspective, a typical big-industry vodka is distilled 5 times. It’s boiled and produced from 5 cuts. Industry City Distillery passes the product through their fractional still once and from it, they take 30 cuts! The product is also made from beet sugar, instead of cane sugar as it has a higher energy density and they’re making their own algae-encapsulated yeast beads {meet Tom, the inaugural batch that has been put through the test-lab ringer} in a small climate-controlled, and apparently groundbreaking, fermentation environment that they plan to open-source in the future.

Impressed? Intrigued? Totally geeked out and ready to sample? Good news, Industry City Distillery’s inaugural product launch is happening April 20th and you can get your hands a bottle of Industry City Distillery “No.2” Vodka by pre-ordering at DrinkUpNY here and for a limited time it’s on sale for 25% off. I’ll drink to that! Want to know more? Check-out their website for cool diagrams, photos and more about the secret sauce — oh, and sign-up for their newsletter so stay in the know.

More Brooklyn Gems You Should Know About:
Do This!: Learn to Forage in Prospect Park for Edible and Medicinal Plants with Expert Leda Meredith
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk
Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s

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2 Comments

Filed under Do This!, NYC Best, {Drink Me}

2 responses to “Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka

  1. KMR

    Love it, XTina! Great pictures (and commentary)!

  2. Jill Pranger

    Wonderful story and wonderful (Depressingly Awesome, indeed!) place! Can’t wait to try the vodka!

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