THE ORIGIN STORY
Inspired By Space, Born In Chicago
How did a kid who almost didn't graduate high school get here? After getting bitten hard by the craft beer bug around 2007, the adult version of that kid graduated from drinking too many crappy light beers to the world. His wife (at the time) was "skeptical" about his ability to craft a drinkable, much less GOOD, beer using his crusty old stock pot on their tiny kitchen stove. But after numerous attempts and failures, she gave the greatest compliment he could ask for. That the IPA he had been fermenting in a 5-gallon bucket tucked away in the back corner of a dark closet, behind pairs of dusty dress shoes Karl never wore with a wet t-shirt wrapped around it to keep it cool, was actually "okay." That beer was christened the India Pale Skeptic Ale in honor of having turned a Skeptic into a Believer (well, not exactly, but you get the drift). It was official, the idea, if not yet the company, Skeptic Brewing Co. was born.
So then a bunch of life stuff happened. Flash forward 5 years or so later. Karl is introduced to vacuum distillation by a Chemical Engineer/Jehovah's Witness named Richard DeGroot. Richard had experimented with distilling bottom shelf box wine under vacuum, then rapidly aging it, to make brandy. He claimed that he was able to make it taste almost indistinguishable from an expensive 20 year old brandy. In that moment, an Edison light bulb exploded into tiny glass shards of inspiration in Karl's brain. He imagined, what if a different kind of fermented beverage could also be distilled in such a manner? What would it taste like?
So he tried it on a mango habanero double IPA he had been working on. To his utter surprise, it not only smelled like the beer, but it tasted like it too. Right out of the still. And it was smooth!! But distilling whiskey from craft beer under vacuum would take a lot of tinkering and engineering to build and perfect the necessary equipment designs. And there was more yet to learn, so it was time to go to school... Lots of studying, books and online learnin', a few explosions here and there, and countless f--k-ups later, Karl was hooked on making booze. Being a gin-thusiast, Karl's favorite gin was The Botanist, from Scotland. It had a kind of delicate balance that he wanted to emulate. He had always been semi-obsessed with mango as a flavor in food, beers and in life, and was determined to bring that tropical vibe to what he thought should be a refreshing, citrusy gin, suitable for any day you'd want to imagine that it's summer at the beach. Some 35 to 80 recipes later, the Skeptic Gin formula was finished.
All the while, he was also busy working on the process to craft Skeptic Vodka. As a non-vodka enthusiast, yet a huge fan of mixing vodka into anything and everything he had available in the fridge, Karl sought to make a vodka that was so ultra smooth it would blend in seamlessly to any environment, like a well camouflaged moth on a tree, or a stick insect, or a polar bear. It took a lot of trial and error. It took a lot of time, honestly, to test various carbons and experiment with other aspects. In the end, the process was finalized, and it's a process somewhat unique to vodka and distilling as a whole, as far as we know..
In June of 2018, Karl finally pulled the plug on his former career and went full speed ahead with Skeptic. He went into production later that month making the first batches of vodka and gin.
In the next chapter, Whiskey In The Jar, Karl will finally finish that whiskey still and begin turning that India Pale Skeptic Ale into India Pale Believer Whiskey. Strap in. The engines are lit, and it's time for liftoff!