Lyons, Colorado’s first distillery, Spirit Hound will have bottles of its gin, vodka and Richardo’s Coffee Liqueur for sale, along with a nearly complete list of its house cocktails and infused vodkas.
“We’re crawling back to life,” says co-founder Neil Sullivan. “Our gear is up & running, we’ve got water and electricity and our toilets are flushing again.”
The timing, he notes, is good. “We have seen so much goodwill from people who want to get up here and support our businesses. It’s been incredible.”
Sullivan is also the owner of the St. Vrain Market in Lyons, his store was hit by some of the town’s worst flooding. When he reopened his store a few days ago, he saw that goodwill first hand.
“The day we opened back up,” he recalls, “about all we had for sale were snack chips. A woman came in, grabbed bags of chips and told me, ‘I don’t eat these. But I want to buy something and help you.’”
Spirit Hound is located just a few feet from the typically tranquil St. Vrain River, which record rains turned into a raging river of destruction on September 11.
Distiller Craig Engelhorn was stranded in the Spirit Hound distillery when the flood hit and spent the night of September 11 in a second-floor lounge area.
He woke the next morning to a building filled with water and floating chairs and equipment. The distillery was surrounded with water and floating debris, everything from pieces of destroyed homes to toppled trees and utility poles.
To get back open, Spirit Hound added a new boiler to its brewing system, two new glycol chillers for its fermentation tanks, and a new heating & air-conditioning system.
The tasting room required a rebuild that includes a new bar, new garage doors, a refinishing of all of its wooden tables and chairs, and extensive drywall repairs.
For co-owner Matt Rooney, opening the doors of the distillery is a welcome change of pace.
“Most of us are back home now,” Rooney says, “and every day people are asking us when we’re going to open. They want to come in and support us. So to be able to open back up after all of the damage and destruction here, it feels just great.”
Despite its significant problems, Rooney says the flood has delivered some unexpected benefits. “It has united our town,” Rooney says, “in a special way.”
It has also tightened the connections among him and his Spirit Hound founders. “This distillery,” Rooney says, “was born out of good friendships. This flood has brought our friendships even closer.”
“We’ve learned,” Rooney adds, “that the important things in life are family and friends. I know that’ll sound corny to any one who doesn’t live here. But when you look at what’s happened in this town, it’s a fact. Friendships persevere.”
Spirit Hound’s Neil Sullivan is one of the organizers for flood relief for Lyons residents. People interested in contributing to the relief efforts, he says, can visit www.lyonsfightsback.org to get donation information and donate money.
“For all of those people we’ve heard from around the country who want to pitch in, the site is the best way for them to lend a hand,” Sullivan says.
For more info contact Marty Jones at 720-289-9345 (cell), 303-860-7448 (office) or firstname.lastname@example.org .
More details on the company’s spirits and story are available at www.spirithounddistillers.com .