THE ORIGIN STORY
Inspired By Space, Born In Chicago
How did a kid who barely graduated 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 that crusty old gumbo stock pot on their tiny kitchen stove. But then, lo and behold, she one day begrudgingly admitted that an IPA he fermented in a 5 gallon bucket tucked away in the back corner of a dark closet, behind the dusty dress shoes Karl never wore, with a wet t-shirt wrapped around it to keep it below room temperature, was "pretty okay." That beer was thus 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 some 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. He describes how he had experimented with distilling bad wine under vacuum to make brandy, and how he was able to make them 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 gray matter. He imagined, what if a different kind of fermented beverage could also be distilled in such a manner? What would it taste like? Would it taste like liquid nirvana?
Yes. Yes, it did. But distilling whiskey from craft beer under vacuum would take some tinkering and engineering to build and perfect the necessary equipment. 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 ginthusiast, as it were, his favorite gin was (although now it's his SECOND favorite gin...) The Botanist, from Scotland. It was, and remains, a worthy adversary. But Karl wanted his gin to be second to none, and unique amongst the quickly ballooning crowd of gins coming on the market. He was semi-obsessed with mangoes in beers and in life, and was determined to bring that tropical vibe to what he thought should be a refreshing gin, suitable for any day you'd want to imagine that it's summer at the beach, except for during summer, which is when you wouldn't need to imagine it. Some 35 or 80 recipes later, Skeptic Gin was finalized.
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 crying and laughing, and laughing and crying, and childish tantrums with breaking of glassware, before he landed on the perfect process. A process unique to vodka and distilling as a whole.
In June of 2018, Karl finally flipped the script on his former career and moved on. Skeptic went into full production later that month and the rest is still being written. In the next chapter, Whiskey In The Jar, Skeptic will 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!