Rhine Hall, a brandy distillery in the Kinzie Corridor, is tentatively set to open in September. Jenny Solberg and her father Charlie are Rhine Hall's co-founders and Jenny will manage the distillery's day-to-day operations. Rhine Hall will feature a tasting room, tours of the facility, and a "Brandy Bar" with cocktails made from the house made brandy.
Asked why she decided to go into the brandy game, Jenny says "because it is delicious and the product that were are the best (at) and most experienced at making."
Charlie, a former hockey player in Austria in the 1970s, learned about brandy distilling working in the off seasons as a fruit farmer in Germany. He ended up teaching his family how to distill, bringing them back to Germany to teach them the ins and outs of the process and the business. Last year Jenny, the youngest of her siblings, "decided to go for it," moving from San Francisco back to Chicago (the family's hometown) to lay the groundwork for Rhine Hall.
Their product will feature 40% alcohol content, with 100% of the apples used in the distillation process coming from Michigan. They are in the process of acquiring distributorship and are working with local bartenders and mixologists to craft the cocktail menu for the brandy bar. Unlike the recently opened CH Distillery, aside from pretzels in the bar, there are no plans to serve food.
The still at Rhine Hall was made by the same company that made the ones Charlie used back in Germany. There will be two bicycles in the distillery to allow people to "make their own brandy" after tours and tastings. They "engineered a stationary bike to a belt connected to an apple chopper used to make apple cider." Rhine Hall's logo reflects their process: the apple is the raw product, the wheel is the chopping method, the flame the distillation process, and the bottle representing the finished product.
The involvement of family runs deeper than just daughter and father, however. Her brother Chad engineered all of the stainless steel tanks at Solberg Manufacturing (the family air filter manufacturing company), while her sister Lisa is painting a massive mural for the tasting room. Jenny says that "every single family member have contributed in the most amazing ways."
Should Rhine Distillery not open in September as they hope to, they will still be a part of Craft Spirits Week's Indie Open House on Saturday, September 28 from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Chicagoland and Beyond.
· Rhine Hall [Official Site]
· All Coming Attractions [-ECHI-]