For "quite some time," as he puts it, Deep Ellum Brewing Company founder John Reardon has been looking to expand the business -- and he isn't just talking about adding a few more beer tanks. Nope, says Reardon, he's looking to mix in something a little more potent to the menu. Like, say, gin. Or whiskey. The good stuff. The strong stuff.
"You learn to make one product, you want to make them all," he says. "Just seems like a natural progression, and it's something we enjoy doing."
To get into the distilled-beverage business, Deep Ellum Brewing Company will need to expand its operations, and Reardon has already found a second home -- appropriately, the old Spirits liquor warehouse on Canton and Malcolm X, which closed March 1, 2014, and has been vacant ever since. DEBC's stiff-drink future is now in the hands of the City Plan Commission and the Dallas City Council, which will have to approve an application for a specific use permit needed to open a microdistillery.
The SUP application goes to the CPC Thursday. The agenda item doesn't name a tenant, only the landlord and the proposed use: "The new operator proposes to utilize approximately 15,000 square feet for the manufacture of alcoholic beverages and utilize the remainder of the building for warehouse use for the microbrewery, microdistillery or winery use." Rumors have abounded for weeks that Deep Ellum Brewing Company was the future tenant; Masterplan's Santos Martinez, who's shepherding the permit through the process, confirmed it was DEBC this morning.
"They need to help Dallas relax one drink at a time," he said just before we hung up.
Reardon says about 10,000 square feet will be used for beer-making, especially as DEBC looks to expand its offerings. "We are planning on doing our barrel aging and sour beers in that space," he says.
Which leaves one-third of the space for spirits.
"We want to start with high-quality gin, and we will be storing and aging some of the darker spirits, like single-malt whiskeys," he says. "It's what we know -- malt whiskey, rye whiskey. ... It's always been something very intriguing to me. I was thinking about doing it a couple of years back, but we just ran out of space. But this will basically double our footprint here, which is a big jump, so I have extra room to work with."
Reardon says that getting into the spirits-making business just made sense. It's all the rage, after all. Just look at Jameson, which is now selling something called Caskmates, which consists of Irish whiskey aged in oak casks that have been "seasoned with craft Irish stout." Bourbon-barreling beer's so two years ago.
"We're buying so many used barrels from Bourbon County, the next step is to figure out what to do with those barrels," he says. "You can create so much unique stuff. The plan is to build a unique catalog of beers and barrels and just see how it goes."