TEXAS VODKA MADE FROM BLACK-EYED PEAS?
Black-eyed peas deliver prosperity in the new year — but they also can bring, as one Texas farmer found out, a boozy good time. Now, he’s distilling with them to make vodka at BlackEyed Distilling in Fort Worth, which recently hosted a grand opening celebration.
Master distiller Trey Nickels got the idea for making the vodka after challenging years working on his family’s land in Muleshoe, a Panhandle town northwest of Lubbock, and enduring drought and poor crop yields. He decided to put the peas to a very different use instead, moving on from farming, and has found that they contribute a clean taste in BlackEyed Distilling’s signature product, BLK EYE Vodka.
Vodka made from black-eyed peas? Thanks to a forwardthinking distiller, it exists in Fort Worth.
“We knew black-eyed peas were loaded with the starch necessary to make the fermented mash that can be distilled into liquor. We just needed to prove it. So we put the concept to the test,” according to a press release from the distillery.
The vodka is made with a blend of Texas-sourced nongenetically modified blackeyed peas and corn, distilled 22 times in a 21-foot column still and brought to 40 percent alcohol by volume. Nickels has noticed that black-eyed peas are suited for making vodka, as corn and potatoes are, because distilling them “produces a neutral flavor that’s also ideal for mixing.”
His project is a family affair with his mother, Deborah Nickels, serving as the distillery’s tasting room manager. Nestled in a circa-1910 firehouse in Fort Worth, BlackEyed Distilling will start offering regular tours and tastings starting this weekend, and visitors will be able to try the vodka, as well as other small-batch spirits made there,
in cocktails. They can also take bottles to go.
“Operating a distillery in an old firehouse does have at least one advantage,” according to BlackEyed. “That hole in the floor where the firemen’s pole used to be? It just happens to be the perfect place to fit our copper and steel pot still.”
BlackEyed Distilling is located at 503 Bryan Ave. in Fort Worth, for the next time you’re in that neck of the woods. The BLK Eye Vodka also is on shelves at a couple of Spec’s (Highland Park
and Arbor Walk) in Austin.
Barbecue Wife wins big at Samuel Adams’ pitch competition
The local maker of an all-natural Bloody Mary Mix distilled her dream about the business into a cohesive pitch that won over the judges and the audience at the Pop-Up Pitch Room competition at South by Southwest earlier this month. Barbecue Wife owner Catherine Stiles took
home both the main prize of the $10,000 business grant and the $5,000 People’s Choice Award. The Pop-Up Pitch Room is the brainchild of Boston Beer Co., the brewery behind Samuel Adams beers and Brew
ing the American Dream, a philanthropic program that fueled the creation of the competition.
“I’m still in shock and so very humbled by
the win. I was both the judges’ selection and the People’s Choice selection, so it was a surreal day,” Stiles said via email. She was the head of one of five Austin-based food and beverage small businesses that competed in the Pop-Up Pitch Room, with each business owner giving two-minute pitches
about their projects. Samuel Adams’ Brewing the American Dream — which also released a collaboration beer at the event with local Infamous Brewing — “provides micro-lending, coaching and mentoring to food, beverage, and craft brewing small business owners nationwide and welcomed Grand Prize and People’s Choice winner Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix to its national network of innovative and passionate entrepreneurs,” according to a news release.
She has been producing the Bloody Mary
Mix since 2015 using the barbecue sauce from
her husband’s restaurant, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew. The result is a perfectly balanced savory mixture of smoke and heat and is available at a variety of Austin retailers, including Whole Foods, Breed & Co and Twin Liquors.
BLK EYE Vodka is a new spirit from Fort Worth that’s made with black-eyed peas grown in Texas.
Catherine Stiles, the founder of Barbecue Wife, won a competition among small business owners in Austin during South by Southwest.