Few things are as important to the success of a small brewery than the loyal following of it’s biggest fans. Those drinkers that follow your every move, try every beer, and jump in line for memberships and special releases - these are the super fans that are the lifeblood of an operation in those earliest lean years.
And today’s guest is largely responsible for creating one such cult following - but not for beer. Rather, for a supremely bitter and wince-inducing wormwood spirit called Jepson’s Malort. And almost any craft brewer would kill to have the kind of guaranteed following that Malort now has in Chicago, and a growing number of pockets around the country.
His name is Sam Mechling and he’s not the founder of the company - not by a longshot. He’s not the distiller. But in many ways, he’s the heart and soul of the brand, and largely responsible for its resurgence as a beloved Chicago institution. But before all this, he was a comedian.
So how did a Chicago comedian become the influence behind one of the most sought after, and simultaneously reviled spirits of all-time? Well, that’s what he’s here in the GBH Studio to tell us about.
But we’re also going to dig in to the details of it’s production, and that exotic ingredient that we’ve all sort of heard about, but rarely understand - wormwood.