Driving south on 522 some eleven miles south of Berkeley Springs, on your left you will come across a gazebo that has sprung up on the front parcel at the Morgan County Business Park.
That gazebo once enclosed will become the tasting room of the Capstone Spirits Distillery, owned and operated by Kathryn Krenn, her husband John Hrubec and her son Nick Hrubec.
The family has owned property near Paw Paw for more than 25 years.
Why a distillery?
“When my husband and I were talking about what we might do when we retired, we talked about owning a small business,” Krenn told This Week in Morgan County. “I was on my way back from a business trip reading the airline magazine and they were talking about micro distilleries being the next big thing after micro breweries. I looked at that and said – hey, we could do this. We have these skills. I took it home and pitched it to my husband John and my son Nick. And they were on board. And here we are.”
The gazebo is up – and that will be enclosed to become the tasting center and retail outlet.
Then behind that gazebo will be the distillery – which in the short run will produce clear liquors like vodka and gin and in the longer run the brown liquors like rye whiskeys.
“If the weather holds this spring, we hope to be open by the end of the year,” Krenn said.“Under federal law, you have to have your buildings in before you can apply for a license.”
Will most of your sales be wholesale or retail?
“A bit of both. It will be family friendly. There will be a big garden area out front. People can come in and taste the liquors and then go out to the garden area.”
It’s not going to be a bar?
“No. You can only do a bit of a tasting. Then you have to take the bottle home and drink it somewhere else.”
Krenn is a retired electrical engineer, but her husband and son are all handy.
Are you building the distillery yourself?
“Some of it and some will be contracted out,” she said. “On the gazebo, we will fill in the walls and finish the inside.”
Behind the gazebo area is where the liquors will be distilled. There will be four sections.
“There is a building that is our mashing area – that’s where we cook the grains,” Krenn said. “We will use rice, wheat and rye to get started. Then there is the fermenting area. That’s where you put yeast in to eat the sugars and make the alcohol. That then goes to the distillery part where we refine the alcohols. And then it will go to the storage area for aging and to be sold. The vodka is ready to go as soon as it is distilled. The gins may need a bit of time. A rum sometimes for three or six months. But a whiskey or rye could take years.”
What is your favorite drink?
“I love a good gin and tonic,” Krenn said. “And I like the different kinds of gins.”