Located in a former airplane hangar in Alameda, St. George’s Spirits is a craft distillery that specializes in gin, vodka, absinthe, and brandy. Small but world renowned, St. George’s Spirits is a distillery that is passionate about their craft. From pear brandy to all purpose vodka to some more experimental drinks, like wasabi vodka, this craft distillery is passionate about what they do. We recently went on the full guided tour and tasting at their local production facilities.
For a mere $20, you get a tour with a very knowledgeable guide, as well as a taste of six different spirits and liqueurs. It’s very evident from the beginning that the staff take what they do seriously, and are extremely well-versed in the science of craft distilling.
St. George’s Spirits opened in 1982 and was famous for their pear brandy. The founder, Jorge Rupf, originally came to study law, but discovered the bounty of fresh fruit in sunny California. Inspired, he decided to create eau de vie (essentially brandy) of Bartlett pear, which his family had been doing for generations. Then, in 2004, Lance Winters joined the team. He was originally a nuclear scientist who started experimenting with making beer, and then started distilling under Jorge.
Finally, Jorge decided to retire and Lance bought out his share to become the master distiller and owner. Our guide highly emphasized the importance of this statement. Why? Because it shows that the distillery is not beholden to investors or another holding company. That means they can experiment and well, do what they what. Thus, the lobster vodka and the wasabi vodka. They are known for always pushing the envelope when it comes to trying new things!
As I had mentioned, their pear brandy is one of their most popular spirits. They use all parts of the pear and only uses the Bartlett pear. We saw 30 tons of pear that had come from Colorado, which are then ripened in the facility. We came at the perfect time, and the whole production facility had a fragrant air of pear.
After the tour, we headed to the tasting room. The tour lasted about 45 minutes, and was very educational (in a good way). What I liked the most was how not only did we learn about St. George’s Spirits, but we learned about the history of certain alcohols, as well as the chemistry behind what makes these spirits, well, spirits. In the tasting room, you can get to choose six different spirits or liqueurs from their tasting menu. It’s very difficult for me to drink straight liquor, so the vodka and gin were a bit hard for me to stomach. However, the spiced pear brandy and NOLA coffee liqueur were amazing. Both tasted delicious on its own and I can see them being perfect for desserts. For those of you who want to drink all the vodka and gin straight, my companions vetted the tour. As vodka and gin aficionados, they thoroughly enjoyed the tasting. For them, the vodkas really shined, especially the green chile vodka. Close call though, the California citrus has delicate citrus flavor that comes from Valencia oranges, Seville oranges, and bergamot.
Want to continue the party? Head next door to Faction Brewery to enjoy a wide array of beers, especially IPA’s!
St. George’s Spirits
2601 Monarch Street
Alameda, CA 94501
Do you have a favorite craft distillery? Tell us in the comments!