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Foundry Distilling Company: Making Your Favorite Beer Into Whiskey!

“We are working with some of the best breweries in the industry to create a collection of the most unique and interesting whiskeys in the world.” ~ Scott Bush 


Scott Bush

Whiskey in America dates to the 1700s when farmers began distilling spirits using rye in Pennsylvania's rolling hills. By the early 1800s, Thomas Jefferson took measures to revoke the whiskey tax, elevating the brand, and by 1897, the Bottled-In-Bond Act established standards of quality for bourbon whiskey. Some criteria are based on aging in oak barrels and 50% Alcohol By Volume (ABV), labeled with a green stamp, “Bottled-In-Bond.” The act required distilleries to deliver whiskey with certification.  


The Building & Its History

Right around the time whiskey production began to flourish in the United States, Rock Island Railroad set out to build infrastructure for shipping coast to coast along the railroad system; one of the locations happened to be a boxcar repair hub in Des Moines, Iowa, dating back to 1899. The boxcar repair barn was set up to house boxcars, and 60-foot steel shipping containers were built to haul dried goods, nonperishable foods, and whiskey. Today, the biggest category in craft spirits in the United States is whiskey, which constitutes 36% of all craft alcohol production. When Scott Bush, CEO of Foundry Distilling Company, launched his new distillery at the former railroad building in Des Moines, what better place to build it, tying together history and the elements of industrial steel, reclaimed wood from the boxcar’s slatted floors, and glass wrapped around the building to pique curiosity from passersby. 


Perched atop the cooler is a 500-square-foot office space, designed using steel and glass wraparounds, and a modern bar and tasting room with a 360-degree view of the facility. The cooler is wrapped in a black patina finish lined with toasted oak barrels, and their collaborative brands are artistically placed to share the stories of public partnership and market elevation. 



Scott Bush


Background 

Scott’s experience working with start-ups and craft distilleries dates to the early 2000s after earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in New Product and Venture Development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He devoted his time to Angel Ventures and worked as a student advisor at Drake University to start-up teams. 

 

By 2002, he and his partners launched Templeton Rye, rolling out “The Good Stuff” in 2006.  They grew that business, and Scott sold his controlling interest in the brand by 2016.  With much passion and emotional connection to the craft spirits sector, he decided to plan his next venture, rolling out their first batch of Foundry Distilling’s Hand-Forged American Vodka, and it was a success. 


Scott Bush - The Still

The Still 

Scott and his team selected a Column Still, and they contracted a local chemical engineer, Joseph Dehner, to build out a 30’ tall still, the tallest in the craft spirits industry. The still comprises a series of plates and trays - building a continuous distillation system. When feedstock is placed into the still - it is fed into the column at the vertical halfway point, flowing downward as gravity allows it to fall into the boiler.  While the feedstock falls, a blast of steam simultaneously pushes upward from the basin. Once the steam meets the feedstock, it volatizes the ethanol and flavor elements of the batch. As a result, the feedstock begins its journey back down the column into the basin, processing out the spent wash along the way. 



Office Space

The Brewer-Distiller Alliance

When Scott and Maria Stipp, Stone Brewing’s CEO,  decided to collaborate on a Brewer-Distiller Alliance Whiskey, they immediately began a proof of concept, taking the Wort from their branded Arrogant Bastard Ale, categorized as an American Ale with hints of citrus, pine, and dark cherry; sending that sugar water to Foundry’s still for distillation to concentrate the complexity of Stone Brewing’s delicious flavors into craft whiskey, and it was a hit. In addition, Scott and Pete Faber, CEO of Barn Town Brewing based in Des Moines, collaborated on his Cicada Imperial Stout with a terroir of earthen bittersweet chocolate.  The distillery has partnered with over 15 brewers to produce collaborative brands for the marketplace. 


Arrogant Consortia & Foundry Distilling Co.

Maytag Mead Production 

The Maytag Mead begins with bees and the raw honey produced by the 80-year-old Maytag Farm and Estate. Mead production comprises honey, water, and yeast, making beautiful aromatics.  The honey is then fermented and processed. Once complete, the Mead is stored in toasted oak, exuding caramel and vanilla bean flavors. When bottling, the hand-crafted product is beeswax-sealed, creating a complete ecosystem for a Circular Business Model. 


Maytag Mead
Maytag Mead - Foundry Distilling

What It Takes to Launch A Distillery

Nearly 2,700 distillers make fine products across the United States, and domestic sales drive most craft spirits growth. Starting up a medium to large distillery can cost anywhere from $3M to $5M in initial investment. To date, a white oak barrel shortage exists in the marketplace, and without the ability to age whiskey in a toasted barrel, there is no whiskey. The University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture shares the importance of Missouri’s role in providing charred White Oak barrels to the marketplace and each year, forester Hank Stelzer holds an annual event showcasing how barrels are made and prepared for the craft distilling market.  



Foundry Distilling











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