Region drinkers have a reason to raise a toast — the acclaimed 18th Street Brewery plans to open a distillery to make artisanal liquors.
Drew Fox's craft brewery at 5417 Oakley Ave. in downtown Hammond, which also has a taproom in the Miller section of Gary, released a rendering of the distillery it plans to open in downtown Hammond.
"The 18th Street Distillery coming spring of 2018 will be the first distillery in Hammond, Indiana, since prohibition," the craft brewery announced on its Facebook page. "More info to come in the following week."
18th Street creative director Joey Potts said more details were not immediately available but should be forthcoming.
As craft brewing has matured, many breweries have branched out by building distilleries, including Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, Anchor Brewing, Rogue, Ballast Point and New Holland Brewing.
"These guys were a godsend for us to move to downtown Hammond, which is near and dear to our hearts," Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott said. "A lot of people talk the talk, but they walk the walk. They wanted to move to downtown Hammond and for us just to get out of the way. It's an excellent restaurant and great brewery and now there will be a distillery. These are excellent guys and good community people."
A distillery could make the brewpub, where longtime Chicago chef Andrew Dering cooks, even more of a draw to downtown, McDermott said. It's already popular for gourmet food and craft beers like Sex & Candy India Pale Ale and Hunter Milk Stout.
"A pleasant surprise with Byway Brewing and 18th Street is they're both excellent restaurants as well," he said. "This is one of the coolest things I've seen in my 15 years as a mayor."
The distillery will be located on the southeast corner of old industrial building 18th Street Brewery now occupies.
"It might mean a few additional jobs," McDermott said. "But it's just cool that people want to invest in opening a bar and then a distillery in an abandoned industrial building that had no use in downtown Hammond. They are reinvesting in the Northwest Indiana community. They have proven you can do a restaurant in downtown Hammond, and that you can do a restaurant and cool brewery in an old industrial building."