The first legal distillery in Stillwater since prohibition is now open.
Forge and Foundry, named after Stillwater’s late-1800s foundry is a family-run, grain-to-glass craft distillery. Owners Andrew Mosiman and Christie Wanderer, who are married, decided to open their own distillery as a way of keeping busy as their twin boys are getting older.
Andrew was looking for something to do while the boys were in school, and he had experience home-brewing. He had been looking into similar opportunities in the area, but nothing seemed to be the right fit.
“Eventually we started talking about Distilleries since we like to go to the local distilleries and enjoyed spirits,” Christie said.
They enrolled in small business administration classes to learn how to build a business plan, then went out to Seattle for classes on to distilling. Unlike brewing, it is illegal to distill alcohol without a license.
Initially, they had planned on naming their business the Wanderer Distiller Company after Christie's last name but realized it might sound too similar to the Wander North Distillery in Minneapolis.
It took some head-scratching as nothing quite stuck with them until they did some research and found out about a company called Twin Cities Forge and Foundry, which built ammunition and barges in the early 1900s to the 1930s. They were around after the decline of the lumber industry and when Stillwater started to recreate new industries.
“It felt a lot like what we were trying to do, and so we named the Distillery as an homage to Stillwater’s rebirth after the lumber industry and the resilience of the people to preserve,” Christie said.
Stillwater’s history is not new to the couple, as Andrew and Christie are Stillwater locals. Andrew was born and raised in the area and moved back after his time in the Navy. He and Christie have lived in Stillwater for over 25 years and consider it to be their home.
“We really believe in community and want to build a place friends, family and community can come and enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail,” Christie said.
Not only are they local, but to support local businesses, the two source as many ingredients locally as possible.
“Our grains are local from Hugo, Minnesota. A number of seasonal ingredients in our cocktails we’ve purchased at the Stillwater farmers market,” Christie said.
They opened with vodka and rum on their menu and are working on gin, which they hope to have in a few weeks.
“Eventually (we) will start experimenting with other flavors and will start aging whiskey and bourbon, which will take years in barrels to age. Being a distillery, we are only allowed to serve what we make, unlike bars, so our tasting room has a seasonal menu reflecting our spirits. We will rotate the menu to reflect the seasons,” Christie said.
Located right in the heart of downtown Stillwater, the distillery includes a full tasting room and full production right downtown. They have a gorgeous location with a deck that faces the St. Croix River, and all of their alcohol is produced onsite.
“We strive every day to forge meaningful and long-lasting friendships through the creation of uniquely crafted small-batch spirits and cocktails,” Christie said.
Despite their unique business, things have not gone as planned like many things this year due to COVID-19.
The couple signed the lease for the building they are in back in December 2019. They were hoping to open back in April, but COVID delayed everything from their equipment arriving to being able to open at all.
“CDC and Minnesota orders kept changing every time we thought about how we could open. Would we only be able to have cocktail kits to go? Then only outdoor seating, then open seating inside but at 50% capacity. There were a lot of moving parts to try and get open safely,” Christie said.
Their seating in the tasting room and on their deck is well below 50% capacity for the safety of customers. They also had originally wanted to have comfier seating but decided to get harder surfaces to ensure everything was easy to sanitize. They had to roll with the punches, but have officially opened and are ready for business.
More information on Forge and foundry can be found on their website: forgeandfoundrydistillery.com as well as on Facebook and Instagram.