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New Santee Saloon Brews Up Beer & Moonshine

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10960 Wheatlands Ave Suite 101 Santee, California 92071
10960 Wheatlands Ave Suite 101 Santee, California 92071

[All photos by Candice Woo]

Two Navy SEALs and one East County firefighter have teamed up to open BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., a home brew store and education center, brewery and small batch distillery all within a 6,900 square foot warehouse in Santee, right off SR-67.

Wes Richey and Andrew Arrabito, the two aforementioned SEALs, gave Eater a preview of the space, which is scheduled to be completed by early March; Richey will oversee the beer alongside Dan Jensen, their head brewer who brings with him nine years of local brewing experience. Arrabito will handle the distilling on a 50 gallon column still, producing single malt whiskey, bourbon and a line of mason jarred moonshine.

The appeal of moonshine, bootlegged white lightning, is romantic but is it moonshine if it's not made in a bathtub or transported under the cover of night? Matthew Rowley, a local freelance writer who blogs at Rowley's Whiskey Forge, told Eater that "Moonshine by definition is illicitly produced alcohol. The class or style of alcohol is irrelevant, as are its age, color, ancillary ingredients, and proof. Moonshine rather is a method of production — and that method is making unreported, untaxed ethanol." Rowley, who wrote the book Moonshine!, said in a recent article for Whisky Advocate that "make-believe moonshines give a broad wink at the danger and allure of illicit distilling, and some even resemble regional moonshines, but none can lay claim to the illegality that has defined moonshine since the 1700s".

Still, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.'s moonshine, or white whiskey, ought to have appeal with bartenders; the spirits, which will have a max of 80 proof, will come in six cocktail-friendly flavors, including serrano chile. Arrabito is crafting a saloon-esque tasting room for the distillery out of reclaimed barn wood, and will conduct education classes and demos there. It'll be adjacent to BNS' beer bar, which will have up to 20 of their own brews on draft. The core beers, which tap into the Wild West, all-American ethos of the company, will be brewed on a 10 barrel system and include Gunfighter Golden Ale, Flintlock Black IPA, Revolver American IPA, Outlaw Western White Ale, Saloon Girl Saison and Gatling Gun Imperial Stout. BNS plans to package the beers both in cans and 22 oz. bottles.
·BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. [Official Site]
· All Plywood Reports on Eater San Diego [~ESD~}