Kodiak Island Brewery considers adding distillery

The Kodiak Brewery has long been a choice spot in Kodiak for having a beer, but if beer isn’t to your taste you might be looking elsewhere. But what if the Brewery was also a distillery? That’s something Brewery owner Ben Millstein has been mulling over.

“One of the typical things that we talked about in brewing is that if you’ve got a car full of four people, and one of them doesn’t like beer, you didn’t lose one customer, you lost four customers. And so the concept is not just to appeal to people who don’t like beer, but to make it a reasonable destination for groups in which even just one person doesn’t really drink beer,” Millstein said.

Millstein doesn’t just want to diversify his offerings at the brewery; he sees this as a way to become more competitive locally.

“I’ve been recently wondering, even before the pandemic, what other things I could do to bring more traffic in, because we’ve lost some over the years, and distillation is– when you’re brewing, you’re already doing the first half of whiskey. So you don’t need a whole lot of extra equipment to do that. It’s not insignificant, but it’s a reasonable other layer of production to add in a brewery. And so I thought it would be fun and add another reason for people to come here,” Millstein said.

Millstein applied for a battery of different permits, at the state and federal levels, and Thursday the Kodiak Island Borough will make a decision on his distillery license application after hearing public comments during last Thursday’s work session.

Millstein admits that he’s new to the distilling process, but is optimistic that he’ll be able to serve spirits in the near future.

“And so I’ve gotten my federal permit, I’m still waiting on the state and city permits, then I have to get label approvals and formula approvals. And I’m kind of learning as I go. And so there’s no real way to push it. And since I don’t have experience in distilleries, it’s really hard for me to predict. But I hope that sometime by the end of the year that I’ll be able to- if not sooner- that I’ll be able to start serving some spirits,” Millstein said.

And now to address the question on everyone’s mind- yes, this would allow you to have two pints in addition to liquor at the brewery, according to Ben Millstein. The way that math plays out isn’t immediately clear, but most likely one would be able to have both liquor and beer- although there is a limit imposed on how much liquor one could have at the brewery, in the same way that beer is limited.

In the meantime, Millstein awaits the decision of the Kodiak Island Borough, and ponders new ways to incorporate Kodiak’s local flavors into liquor.

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