If you want to learn how to distill, but you don't exactly have $3,500 to spare for the American Distilling Institute's upcoming course (and don't particularly care to play the old Federal crime game), you're in luck. The Chicago office of The Siebel Institute of Technology, Germany's leading brewery education center, announced its first distilling course (many brewers say distilling is the logical next step after making beer) for substantially less -- $2,200. Flight to Chicago not included.
Plan C? As craft distilling has become more popular recently, more industry suppliers are offering courses on the cheap. Yes, these are distilling equipment and ingredient manufacturers, so there is that playing both sides of the buy/sell fence issue. But you could also look at it as they really don't want you to fail, because as you churn out the whiskey over the years, they'll make plenty of pennies as well.
Kothe, a German pot still manufacturer, offers a $199, all-day demonstration course. Also in Chicago. Enter White Labs, a yeast manufacturer for the brewing and distilling industry. The company is offering its first $400 ($450 after September 1) all-day course on craft distilling on Saturday, October 2 in Davis. Same state at least, and the yeast laboratory tour is free. White Labs founder Chris White is leading the course -- along with what has only been described as other "fermentation experts" (use your imagination) -- on making gin, rum, brandy, vodka, whiskey, or whatever your liquor cabinet desires. The facility also happens to be next door to Sudwerk Brewing. For after work drinks.
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For "more information on the technical aspects of fermentation and microbiology," you can call 1.888.5.YEAST.5 or visit the White Labs website.