More craft beer, liquor in NKY's future

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The future for Northern Kentucky appears to involve more booze.

The craft beer and liquor craze has hit the shores of Northern
Kentucky and given some residents the confidence to jump into the
growing industry.

Northern Kentucky's second distillery, Second Sight Spirits, is set to
open in February in Ludlow making rum and gin with the plan to expand
into bourbon in a few years.

It will join New Riff bourbon distillery operating in front of the
Party Source in Newport and at least three breweries expected to open
in Northern Kentucky in 2015: Wiedemann in Newport, Braxton Brewing
Co. in Covington and Bircus Brewing Co. in Ludlow.

Those in the industry don't think the region and the state have even
come close to a saturation point on booze.

There are 18 new distilleries in the process of opening across
Kentucky and $630 million in planned expansions over the next five
years to current bourbon distilleries, said Eric Gregory, president of
the Kentucky Distiller's Association. The number of bourbon
distilleries in Kentucky has tripled since 2012 to 27.

"I don't think the ceiling is anywhere in sight," Gregory said. "We're
in the first inning in the golden age of bourbon. We're literally just
scratching the surface of the international global demand. New markets
are opening up in India, China and in other countries that were
predominantly scotch drinkers."

From the circus to rum making

One of those new distilleries is in an unassuming building on Ludlow's
main street. There, longtime friends Carus Waggoner and Rick Couch
have built a giant, ornate copper still shaped like a turban and a
crystal ball to reflect the theme of their distillery, Second Sight

Around the still sit large blue barrels where molasses ferments on its
way to becoming rum.

The demand for smaller craft liquors might allow Waggoner and Couch to
settled down in a new career after their career path wound through
puppet making and a stint designing props for Cirque du Soleil.

It was out in Las Vegas working for Cirque du Soleil they met a
distiller who interested them in the business. They saw the
proliferation of bourbon, rum, gin and other liquor makers in
Portland, Ore. and other West Coast cities. They thought Northern
Kentucky, where they both grew up, would make a great place for a
distillery of their own.

"I think Northern Kentucky has such a rich brewing history," Waggoner
said. "I think we're starting to see that possibility. Northern
Kentucky is such a great location right by a major city."

They plan to launch in February with rum. They will then add gin to
their repertoire, and eventually in a few years hope to start making
bourbon. With the growth of distilleries and breweries in the area,
they think Kentucky, in particularly Northern Kentucky, will become a
draw. The potential growth is why they named the distillery Second
Sight, Couch said.

"Second Sight refers for visions of the future," Couch said. "In
trying to find our identity of our distillery, we noticed a lot of
places looked toward the past. They talk about reviving old things,
looking the way it used to be, and we're more looking toward the

Bottles of New Riff bourbon and gin sit inside a lightBuy P)
New Riff thriving in Newport

The region's other distiller also sees a bright future.

The first seven months of the New Riff bourbon distillery in front of
the Party Source on the Newport/Bellevue border have proven how strong
a draw bourbon can be, said General Manager Hannah Lowen. Since New
Riff started distilling bourbon in May, 10,000 people have toured the
facility, which is part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Lowen said.
That's despite the fact that New Riff's bourbon won't be available for
another four years as it ages. The distillery, however, has sold it's
unaged mash bourbon and rye liquor and also sells a bourbon aged years
ago in Indiana, she said. They expect 20,000 to 30,000 visitors each
year when at full production in five years, she said.

"It is on an exponential growth curve," Lowen said. "The same thing
that drives craft brewing is driving craft distilling. We're thrilled
to be a part of that."

Lowen also oversees Ei8ht Ball Brewing in the Party Source. Ei8ht Ball
began brewing beer in Dec. 2013 and is available only in bars and
restaurants in Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati and Louisville. Sales and
winning a competition in Chicago has encouraged them to expand
production next year, Lowen said.

The opening of other breweries in the region will only help draw
attention to their product, she said.

Wiedemann resurrected

The Newport/Bellevue area will have three breweries when Wiedemann
Brewery returns after a 30-year absence, the other two being Ei8th
Ball and the Hofbrauhaus, which has operated in Newport since 2003.

Jon Newberry, who resurrected the Wiedemann beer label in 2012, hopes
by June to have the brewery operating in Newport for the first time
since the Wiedemann Brewery closed in 1983. The new Wiedemann Brewery
will be in the WaterTower Square and have a biergarten that Newberry
hopes will become a popular hangout after Reds games.

The demand for the beer has surprised him. He's fielded calls from
people all across the country wanting Wiedemann. Currently, it's only
available across Kentucky and the southern half of Indiana and Ohio.
He expects the growing number of breweries in Ohio and Northern
Kentucky will help increase publicity.

"I don't think we're near the saturation point," Newberry said. "The
more the merrier. The more people drinking beers that are different
than the beers that dominated the market over the past few decades,
the better."

The founders of Braxton Brewing (from left): Greg Rouse, Richard Dube,
Evan Rouse and Jake Rouse stand in the building they will occupy at 25
W. Seventh St. in Covington. Evan and Jake are Greg’s sons.(Photo: The
Enquirer/Patrick Reddy)
Braxton Brewing will be "taproom of the future"

When Braxton Brewing Co. opens up in Covington on Seventh Street in
early 2015, the owners want the brewery to be a focal point in the
region for businesses, groups and residents to meet and hang out. The
company broke a Kickstarter campaign record for breweries when it
raised $70,000. It will use the money to create a "taproom of the
future" with ultra high-speed internet, said co-founder Jake Rouse.

"With the taproom of the future, we see it as a way for beer to go
back to its roots," Rouse said. "In historic England, the brewery was
a communal meeting spot. Legislators would sign laws in breweries.
We're bringing that concept to the new age."

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