Silver Bow Kiwanis

Silver Bow Kiwanis Kiwanis Club Meeting, Apr 10, '12

12:00-1:00 Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Larger map and driving directions

Headframe Spirits
21 S. Montana
Butte, MT 59701

20 people were at Headframe Spirits on South Montana for our field trip. Roger even brought his boss Benny.

Paul Vang introduced John, the owner who then introduced his wife and gave us a history of the business, a history of the bar, a history of the building, and some information on distilling.

The business came about because John lost his job making bio-diesel stills due to the economy. That led to the two year endeavor to open their own distillery. The tap room was actually an afterthought. The business is primarily a manufacturing and bottling business. They currently ship to three states and are working on another two states plus China and Canada.

They do continuous distilling, rather than batch. Continuous requires more monitoring, but takes less time per batch since additional brewed product and be fed into the still as the still is processing. They do have a batch still, but it is a historic piece and needs to be cleaned and inspected before they can consider using it for any batches distilling projects. Their current continuous system was designed by John and some colleagues, because only very high output systems were available. They now have the capacity to manufacture this kind of still for other micro-distilleries in the country.

Clear spirits, like gin and vodka can be bottled after distilling and diluting down to the correct alcohol content, but gold or brown spirits like bourbon or whiskey need to be aged. The aging is done in barrels, and the color of the spirit comes from tannin the alcohol dissolves from the wood. Some of the alcohol seeps through the barrel and evaporates, and this is called the angel's share. As much as 80% of the liquid may evaporate on prolonged aging processes, but usually the loss is more like 10% for a three year aging.

The building was built in 1919 and originally housed a Buick dealership on the main floor (Butte's first Buick dealership) and the Pioneer's Club on the upper floor. Until John purchased the building the Pioneer's Club members and their invited guests were the only ones allowed in the upstairs ballroom and meeting hall. The ball room is now being leased out for special events and they intend to restore it as the lower level has been restored.

Headframe Distillery Tour
Event Updated
2:05 Tuesday, April 10, 2012