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Crafting Unique Spirits in Chippewa Falls: A Journey into the Distillery World

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

 

Crusin' Rating: C-

Booze Rating: C-

 

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Chippewa Falls Distillery

Welcome to 2024 where we are still in the midst of our Chippewa Falls Series!  This week, we are checking out Chippewa River Distillery that is offering up a unique spin on bloodies that Hannah thinks all Wisconsin bars should be looking into.  Opening in 2015, Chippewa River Distillery lies right across the street from its namesake body of water and is the only Distillery that I know of that features rooftop seating with a water view in Wisconsin.  Unfortunately for us, 46 degree temps and a winter evening visit kept us from getting much use out of that rooftop seating.  But we’ve had the opportunity to check it out in warmer months and it offers great views of the river and plenty of sunshine!  

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Chippewa Falls Distillery

Walking past the outdoor staircase that leads up to the roof and tables stored for the winter months, Chippewa River Distillery feels like walking in to a Wisconsin Bar.  The game is on, there's beers being sipped on, bloodies being dressed, and cocktails being drank.  A Jukebox is playing, a popcorn machine is popping, and gambling machines are beeping.  There’s a large “L” shaped bar with seating for around 20 and live-edge tables that can seat up to 8.  While it was fairly dark inside and the lighting didn’t help much, this distillery sports a lot of glass that we guessed would let in lots of natural light during the day.  


Hannah noted the industrial rustic aesthetic of cement block walls, wooden tables, and plenty of metal to be seen.  I would call the space functional.  There were some decorations around, bright signage, but I would have to agree, a functional, no-frills space to meet with some friends for a drink or two.  



While I did order a flight of 4- 6oz pours what I want to talk about is Trumies, a line of single flavored vodkas that Chippewa River Distillery Produces that, again, may not look the flashiest, but ended up being a Chippewa-area staple that Hannah really loved. Named after a long-closed local watering hole the premise of Trumies is both simple and yet also novel in its execution:  provide several flavored vodkas: dill, garlic, horseradish, jalapeno-habanero, bacon, lemon zest, raspberry, blueberry, black currant, ginger and then you get to mix and match to create the base of your bloody.  We’ve seen plenty of infused vodkas, and even one or two specifically to include in bloodys - cucumber, bacon-jalapeno, and even one to give all of the flavors you want in a bloody at Twisted Path Distilling.  But what we haven’t seen is taking an affordable spirit, like vodka, and giving a plethora of options that are going to work in one cocktail specifically, along with a little crossover.  I can see a the black currant and even lemon getting lots of play time, but the horseradish is a little niche.


Hannah is our bloody expert and was absolutely in love with the idea of customizing the bloody to suit your tastes, so much so that she’s made multiple requests to have on hand various infused vodkas at the Crusin’ for Booze home bar.  While I’m not in love with the idea of black currant in a bloody and probably wouldn’t recommend it, the citrus and savory options are something that we haven’t seen before.  On top of that, multiple bars and restaurants in the area carry at least of a few of the Trumie line-up.


I think in the cocktail world the bloody gets a bad rap of being this messy, somewhat tacky, simple mix that only serious boozers, hangover victims, or influencers order.  We’ve seen bloodies range from the most basic of V8 and vodka to the preposterous of a full meal for four people.  


I think the drink needs to exist somewhere in the middle, a savory delight with a few accoutrements.  From the bartender in me, it’s just so simple and effective to take a bloody mix and then just let individuals pick their flavors, ensuring they get a drink that they are craving.  I did not expect, walking into this distillery, this seemingly obvious idea to elevate the Bloody Mary.  I think if you are a bloody fan then you need to start trying something like this in your weekend imbibement.  I also remind myself of the Thirsty Troll’s words of - "not everyone is going to take the time to infuse their own stuff".  I think from that perspective Trumies is brilliant as its an affordable option to have on hand that may not be made-at-home bespoke, but allows for your own customization at your fingertips.


Now, I did try some of their other spirits as Hannah continued to test various bloody combinations.  Trumies is the line of infused vodka, and Chippewa is the brand of the craft spirits.  It can be a little confusing with multiple brands under one roof, admittedly, especially so as liquor isn’t the only thing being made at this imbibery, but more on that later!


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Chippewa Falls Distillery

There’s pre-packaged snacks, beer, and wine, soda, and food carry-ins are welcome.  I snagged a flight of 4- 6 oz pours:


Old Chippewa Rye (40.0% ABV) - Using locally grown rye, and taking a bronze medal in the Denver International Spirits Competition this rye is made with local grains and aged in locally grown barrels.  With some notes of vanilla, light caramel, toasted oak, additionally, Hannah picked up some honey on the nose.  Slightly sweet vanilla in flavor with a little pepper graininess mixed in and a low warmth, this was fairly pleasant to sip on.


Chippewa Lavender Gin (40% ABV) -  On this trip I was a bit of a sucker for Gin and Lavender - perhaps missing warmer months.  This gin poured blue, bordering indigo and smelled of flowery sweetness and of pine.  There were some delicate notes of lavender up front when tasting, followed by some syrup sweetness and some bitter tea flavors that gave way to some noticeable burn.  I think there was a little too much sweetness a a little too much burn.  I was looking forward to some delicate floral notes and even some rich botanical notes.  I do appreciate the local attempt at the growing popularity of purple gins a la Empress or Conniption.  I think this one could use a little dialing up of those floral notes.


Barrel-Aged Gin  (40% ABV) - Golden in color, there was a little barrel and sweet toffee on the nose along with some candy licorice, with the juniper noticeably absent.  Tasting gave us notes of new wood, toffee and sassafras.  I have had barreled gins that had no subtly to their barrel-ness and this is not one of them.  I’ve also had a few that hit that perfect note.  I think this one falls somewhere in between.  I’d like a little more refinement in the flavor and a little more of caramel-like aged sweetness and maybe even a little spice at the finish, depending on the underlying barrel.


Cranberry Ginger Trumies (35% ABV) - This one one I had to try just because it was in partnership with Leinenkugel.  I do not know what we expected but I did not have ginger-Robitussin aroma on my bingo card!  Tasting sugary sweet with some vague red berry notes and a little ginger I really would not recommend sipping strait on this cough drop concoction unless you would like to remember the good ol-days of calling in sick to school in the 90s.


This is our first two part review!  Tune in next week where we check out the other half of this Distillery - that’s right, there’s another part of the imbibery spectrum being brewed up here!  I’ll give my final thoughts there!


Until next week, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop Boozin’! 


To learn more about Chippewa River Distillery please visit their website at: www.chippewariverdistillery.com or on Facebook: @ChippewaRiverDistilleryBrewsterBrosBrewingCo or on Instagram: @chippewadistill_brewsterbrew

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