St. Louis is home to a wealth of riches for beer fans. There are dozens of brewery experiences available, from checking out Anheuser-Busch’s largest and oldest brewing site to revisiting established craft brands like Schlafly to tasting beer from the newer startups like Center Ice Brewery. One of St. Louis’ firmly established breweries, 4 Hands Brewing Co., is branching out with the launch of a distillery brand called 1220 Artisan Spirits. Its first release, Origin, is an American gin with year-round distribution and is available now.
When 4 Hands Brewing Co. launched seven years ago, its meager 1,600 barrel output left a lot of room for growth. The company lived up to that promise by increasing production to over 16,000 barrels in 2016. In addition to its production capacity, 4 Hands has also expanded its distribution area. While the beer continues to find new consumers, the brewery has also managed to stay local, with nearly 83 percent of its beer sold within the Missouri state lines.
4 Hands Brewing Co. owner Kevin Lemp also heads up the 1220 Artisan Spirits side of the equation, calling the expansion a “calculated risk.” He sees the new venture as an “opportunity to collaborate between the brewery and the distillery.” One could easily see future releases between the two companies that might include barrel aged beers or beers brewed to pair with specific spirits. Rob Vossmeyer is 1220 Artisan Spirits’ head distiller, building on his experience at Tom’s Town Distilling in Kansas City.
Origin is described as a New World botanical gin and its base consists of 75 percent grape and 25 percent corn. The ingredients list includes a plethora of exciting elements like Croatian juniper, coriander, orris root, bergamot orange, and neroli, an essential oil extracted from the orange blossom flower. The alcohol by volume (ABV) is 42.5 percent and Origin is released in 750 ml blue-tinted bottles that subtly mask the clear liquor inside. The label art and associated 1220 Artisan Spirits branding is inspired by the icons of secret societies and freemasons, with all-seeing eyes and phrases like “Shrouded in Mystery.”
Fans of Origin gin can expect future seasonal gin offerings that highlight locally-sourced ingredients designed around each season’s weather and associated foods. If you can make it to the 4 Hands Brewing Company Tasting Room, draft gin and tonics are available to take home with you as a $12 growler refill.