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A distillery in a barn in a brewery

Brewery & Distillery lives up to its name, gets into spirits

The beer made in these tanks is not allowed inside the barn.
The beer made in these tanks is not allowed inside the barn.
Place

BNS Brewing & Distilling

10960 Wheatlands Avenue #101, Santee

Making liquor, in addition to beer, has been a part of the business plan since the beginning for Santee's BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. — it's right there in the name. Despite an early change in ownership, that has remained the case, and at the beginning of March, the "est. 2012" company finally launched its distilling component, offering bottles of vodka and moonshine for sale.

The bottles will quickly be followed by a dedicated tasting room, where visitors may sample small quantities of spirits, sectioned off from the rest of the brewery. "The distillery is a completely different license from the beer side," points out owner Gene Chaffin. "Part of the remodel was to get it dressed up."

Initially, these bottles will be available in the tasting room only.

While its brewery remained active, the BNS tasting room closed for a few months last year for some upgrades, including a makeshift red barn façade that delineates the distillery side. By law, brewing and distilling licenses must remain distinct — and while the two components at BNS are under the same roof, they technically have different addresses, with boundaries constructed to keep them distinct. Guests may not bring beer to the distillery side, and spirits drinkers may not bring cocktails to the beer tasting side.

Chaffin explains part of the need to update the space was to redefine those boundaries. BNS often hosts live music, with bands performing on a stage set up on what was technically the distillery side. But performing musicians kept trying to bring their beer on stage, which would have created a violation for BNS.

The stage area is no longer part of the distillery location, and the barn doors distinguishing the boundary have locks. "When we have bands here on Fridays and Saturdays," laughs Chaffin, "we'll lock the doors."

The distillery plan preceded Chaffin's ownership of BNS, but he's embraced it. "I decided just to go ahead an activate the distilled spirits side," he says, "because everybody is pretty interested in that out in East County. And it's kind of fun, man, it gets in your blood!"

In the past few months, BNS assistant brewer Blake Heffernan has increasingly crossed over from the beer side of the building to spend the bulk of his time ramping up spirits production. "I've absolutely fallen in love with distilling," says Heffernan, "and I'm very excited to share with the public what we've secretly been working on!"

What they've literally been working on is a 50 gallon pot still made by Hillbilly Stills, a small manufacturer out of western Kentucky.

With the help of input from fellow east county craft spirit producers including Liberty Call, Copper Collar, and San Diego Distillery, the BNS team has worked up an 80 proof barley mash vodka and a 150 proof moonshine. More efforts are in the works, including a brandy collaboration with La Mesa's San Pasqual Winery, gin, rum, and of course, a bourbon mash. "We already plan on putting some whiskey in barrels for aging," Chaffin says, "and away we go!"

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The beer made in these tanks is not allowed inside the barn.
The beer made in these tanks is not allowed inside the barn.
Place

BNS Brewing & Distilling

10960 Wheatlands Avenue #101, Santee

Making liquor, in addition to beer, has been a part of the business plan since the beginning for Santee's BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. — it's right there in the name. Despite an early change in ownership, that has remained the case, and at the beginning of March, the "est. 2012" company finally launched its distilling component, offering bottles of vodka and moonshine for sale.

The bottles will quickly be followed by a dedicated tasting room, where visitors may sample small quantities of spirits, sectioned off from the rest of the brewery. "The distillery is a completely different license from the beer side," points out owner Gene Chaffin. "Part of the remodel was to get it dressed up."

Initially, these bottles will be available in the tasting room only.

While its brewery remained active, the BNS tasting room closed for a few months last year for some upgrades, including a makeshift red barn façade that delineates the distillery side. By law, brewing and distilling licenses must remain distinct — and while the two components at BNS are under the same roof, they technically have different addresses, with boundaries constructed to keep them distinct. Guests may not bring beer to the distillery side, and spirits drinkers may not bring cocktails to the beer tasting side.

Chaffin explains part of the need to update the space was to redefine those boundaries. BNS often hosts live music, with bands performing on a stage set up on what was technically the distillery side. But performing musicians kept trying to bring their beer on stage, which would have created a violation for BNS.

The stage area is no longer part of the distillery location, and the barn doors distinguishing the boundary have locks. "When we have bands here on Fridays and Saturdays," laughs Chaffin, "we'll lock the doors."

The distillery plan preceded Chaffin's ownership of BNS, but he's embraced it. "I decided just to go ahead an activate the distilled spirits side," he says, "because everybody is pretty interested in that out in East County. And it's kind of fun, man, it gets in your blood!"

In the past few months, BNS assistant brewer Blake Heffernan has increasingly crossed over from the beer side of the building to spend the bulk of his time ramping up spirits production. "I've absolutely fallen in love with distilling," says Heffernan, "and I'm very excited to share with the public what we've secretly been working on!"

What they've literally been working on is a 50 gallon pot still made by Hillbilly Stills, a small manufacturer out of western Kentucky.

With the help of input from fellow east county craft spirit producers including Liberty Call, Copper Collar, and San Diego Distillery, the BNS team has worked up an 80 proof barley mash vodka and a 150 proof moonshine. More efforts are in the works, including a brandy collaboration with La Mesa's San Pasqual Winery, gin, rum, and of course, a bourbon mash. "We already plan on putting some whiskey in barrels for aging," Chaffin says, "and away we go!"

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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