When you leap into brewing craft beer, perhaps the natural progression is to jump next into spirits. It took Wild Leap Brew Co. just two years after its initial entry into the brewery world to begin distilling vodka.
The original logo for the brand is a buffalo — a totem for harmonious, meaningful living, and, also, an indomitable spirit. This sums up what Wild Leap was going for in the former Westbrook Service and Tire Co. building in historic downtown LaGrange. Co-founders Rob Goldstein and Anthony Rodriguez envisioned a laid-back environment where everyone feels comfortable hanging out and gathering friends.
After opening in September, 2017, and with a diverse profile of handcrafted brews, the first brewery in LaGrange has become a true anchor, expanding downtown beyond the square.
“My background was in marketing,” Goldstein said. “Anthony was a veteran of the beer world for over 12 years; same for our brewer, Chris.” They produced events together. After a successful first beer festival for LaGrange, aiming to convince a brewery to open there, the friends decided they were the guys to start a brewery.
The pair left success in Atlanta to create a brewery and brand that is “not about us, but about following passions,” Goldstein said.
Expanding brewing operations to include distillation just seemed a natural fit. “Creating high-quality craft beer has been our focus, but the goal has been to keep the spectrum of beverages open,” Goldstein said. Enter Wild Leap vodka.
“It’s a whole different world,” he said. “As much as it may have been a little frustrating and time-consuming (dealing with various licensing aspects), it was almost a blessing in disguise to be able to perfect and find our voice.”
They dug into the finer details of the spirits world, and tasted hundreds of vodkas made from various ingredients, but kept coming back to 100% corn. They applied their craft beer approach to create a high-quality vodka.
Now, the Wild Leap Taproom serves craft cocktails along with craft beer. The offerings range from a Blueberry Basil Smash to Goldstein’s go-to vodka tonic.
The new vodka bottle is emblazoned with a bear. “We wanted it to stand on its own, but be different,” Goldstein said. The hand-drawn image has evolved over the course of licensing. “It’s perfect,” he said. “It represents strength and confidence to overcome all hurdles.”
The carbon-filtered vodka is made from 100% yellow corn and is naturally gluten-free. It’s 8X distilled, and contains zero carbs or sugar. It’s crisp, but not overpowering on the nose. It’s round, and incredibly smooth, a vodka that is both great on the rocks or in cocktails.
For now, a partner helps to distill the spirit while Wild Leap awaits distillation equipment and expansion of the brewery/distillery. Are there new spirits on the horizon? “It’s possible,” Goldstein said.
Wild Leap vodka will be available the first week of September in bars, restaurants and liquor stores in metro Atlanta and LaGrange. Suggested retail price: $18.99 per 750-milliliter bottle.
Wild Leap Brew Co. 3008 Main St., LaGrange. 706-298-6400, wildleap.com.
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