Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Warfield to Open New Distillery, Offer Free Beers
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Alex Buck pours Warfield's organic Vodka, which is gentle with just a slight burn to remind you you're drinking vodka.
   
Friday, June 26, 2020
 

Warfield to Open New Distillery, Offer Free Beers

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

In a time of economic downturn, worry and stress, Warfield Distillery and Brewery has risen like a phoenix from the ashes.

The downtown Ketchum restaurant will open its new distillery and viewing room on Saturday, June 27. The first 150 visitors to show up between 2 and 5 p.m. will have the opportunity to enjoy a free beer,  and they’ll be able to take a self-guided tour.

 
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The stills were made in Scotland.
 

The new distillery, a giant hole in the middle of Ketchum during the summer of 2018, will greatly add to The Warfield’s business footprint and operation.

And it will enable them to market their house-made organic brews, spirits and far beyond Ketchum.

“I want to be a hot spot and spread our product across Idaho,” said Alex Buck, who co-founded the establishment with Ben Bradley.

The distillery and brewery endured 12 weeks of closure, during which construction was halted, as Ketchum and the Wood River Valley was rocked by the COVID -19 pandemic.

 
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The new distillery features a myriad of tanks that include a boil kettle and a whirlpool to take out extra protein.
 

Workers were still welding pieces onto the new copper stills made in Scotland that sit in the 35-foot tall distillery as Alex Buck and Ben Bradley led a small group of people 18 steps up a spiral staircase to a platform where visitors will be able to watch the five-member distillery crew at work.

“It’s been two years. It’s something that will be here for everyone,” said Buck. “We couldn’t have picked a better time to have something new that’s open. Hopefully, we’ll provide a product that’s of interest even to those beyond this community.”

The expansion increases beer production by 5,000 barrels and distillation of gin, vodka and whiskey by 5,000 gallons.  And head brewer Kiernan Burns, who hails from New Zealand, believes he can increase it to 7,000 barrels.

Ten barrels equals 31 U.S. gallons, noted Buck.

 
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Workers were adding the finishing touches Tuesday afternoon.
 

Among the products: Warfield’s Gold Medal-winning Organic Single Malt American Whiskey, a smooth whiskey which features flavors of toffee, milk chocolate, coffee and vanilla, and its Silver Medal winning Organic Gin, which is notable for its herbaceous notes of sage, juniper, Douglas Fir tips.

“A tremendous amount of work and love and time went into this,” said Bradley.

Brand new: A barrel-aged gin, which features juniper and spicy cloves melded with vanilla and hints of orange peel, anise and sage.

“We care. These three guys—we care about what we’re doing,” said Buck, referring to himself, Bradley and Burns. “We’re building a brand we want to see last forever.”

 
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Ben Bradley and Alex Buck stand among the original beer tanks.
 

 

 

The expanded footprint will offer at tasting room for Warfield’s 14 seasonal beers offered on tap, along with its house spirits.

It includes an expansive basement, which features the boiler that is the at the heart of the operation  and plenty of storage facility. A mill will take its place on the grain mezzanine. Warfield will do its own canning.

James Beard Award Wining Chef Jay Vergge, who joined the crew in late 2019, has developed a line of food reminiscent of England’s gastropub that is family friendly and offers simple, clean ingredients, 90 percent of which are locally sourced.

“I want to see what people are looking for at the moment,” said Vergge, whose southern California restaurant catered to the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Warfield Distillery & Brewery opened its doors in 2015 in Ketchum in a building that was built in 1953.

Buck, a former lawyer, and Bradley spent five years driving around Ketchum trying to find the right location.

They began making 10 gallons of beer, which they thought would be huge, but now seems so small, Buck said. They decided early to go organic, sourcing their hops from Yakima Chief Hops and from a farmer in Filer. During harvest they use fresh hops that haven’t been dried, which offers “an incredible flavor.”

“We use Ketchum’s finest local city water,” said Bradley, as Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw cheered. “It’s absolutely really fantastic brewing water.”

Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw applauded the initiative of Buck and Bradley.

“I can’t thank you enough and the community can’t thank you enough,” he said. “Truly, you’re the next generation to take this town to the next level.”

 

 

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