Brian Meola is the show at Revolution Spirits (dog Zeppelin is a close second)
If you want to see what a one-man distillery looks like, head over to Revolution Spirits in Dripping Springs, TX. That is, if you can find it. It took me a few passes on bendy Fitzburgh Rd before I found it: a large shed tucked at the way back of a complex of other such sheds.
This beautiful black Boxer comes out to greet me first (four legged, not Andre Ward). I hear a lot of commotion going on inside, so I take a peak. There's Brian, the one-man show, jumping from pump to tank, getting his hoses in order. He tells me to hang outside for a second while he wraps up. Zeppelin, the Boxer, keeps me company.
A moment later, Brian invites me in. One twirl around is the entire tour. The operation consists of four stills made out of kegs, sitting on propane burners. Through these, Brian runs a corn-based Neutral Grain Spirit purchased from a third party. That's when the magic begins.
Revolution's main spirits are 100-proof gin and three liqueurs.The gin has a lot going on. Juniper, lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, pink peppercorns and grapefruit zest all steep in the distilled spirit for several days. It makes for a citrusy nose with just a hint of juniper and some pepper. The palate is more a prominent spice, like coriander.
I really liked Revolution's coffee liqueur, Cafecito. Brian gets coffee beans from an Austin roaster, Cuvee, and grinds them within seven days of being roasted. He then filters them through a cold brew, infuses that into the distillate, and adds sugar and vanilla extract. It's as creamy and sweet as you'd expect. At only 40 proof, there's not even the slightest hint of an alcohol taste.
There's a Cafecito version with ground chocolate beans (from a local company called Srsly) steeped in it. If I didn't think the Cafecito could get much better, I stand corrected.
I tried a spirit of Revolution's I didn't care for at all: Amico Amaro. Brian tells me it means "bitter friend" in Italian. It lives up to its name. The aperitif is made the same way as the gin, except the botanicals here are hibiscus, sumac, cedar, orange peel, gentian, cinchoa, apollo hops, witch hazel leaf, thistle, damiana, cranberry, fennel and sugar. Yes, that's right, sugar is last. It would probably take a whole sack of sugar for my palate to agree with this witches brew.
It makes a lot of sense when Brian tells me his favorite drink is Campari, another bitter liqueur. In a way, you could say Revolution Spirits has a liquor for everyone. Herbal-forward gin and an aperitif, if you are going for the complex flavors of, say, a forest floor. And then deliciously sweet coffee and mocha liqueurs for normal folk.