Grumpy Goat Distillery Opens in Downtown Franklin Today
Traditional corn whiskey, cinnamon whiskey, white rum, and a special PA shine wine are just some of the new flavors brought to Franklin.
Longtime Franklin area residents Tom and Kim Kingdom are the brains behind Grumpy Goat Distillery, which is set to open at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 1.
Both Franklin High School graduates, Tom and Kim lived outside the area for a number of years while Tom was in the Army, then came back for a while prior to his retirement, when he worked as a recruiter.
According to Tom, the idea for the distillery all began with his youngest son wanting to try to make homemade root beer.
“I didn’t know any exact recipes or how to go about doing it, so I started tooling around online, and one thing led to another,” Kingdom said.
Soon, he developed an interest in distilling and started seeking approval to begin his own distillery.
“Needless to say, we still have all of the stuff for the root beer sitting at the house and haven’t done a thing with it,” he noted.
Learning about distilling was just one small step toward the business, though. The distillery has been in the works for about three years, according to Kingdom.
“We were looking for property because we were going kind of the winery route, out and away from things. We found a few different places, but I guess people are kind of nervous about letting a distillery come in.”
They attended a few township meetings to gain knowledge of the situation and discovered that a distillery didn’t seem to be welcome in the outlying area. Luckily, another opportunity soon presented itself after they mentioned their business idea to Jodi Baker-Lewis, the Executive Director at the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, who suggested they put the business in downtown Franklin.
“She said ‘Why don’t you come down and walk around town with me,’ and one thing led to another,” Kingdom explained.
“We’ve had a lot of help. Amy from Clarion Small Business has been a phenomenal help, and John Phillips from the Oil Region Alliance was helping us scout for properties.”
Soon, they had their location at 1235 Liberty Street, which previously housed Film Fest Video and prior to that, Uptown Bistro.
“A whole bunch of friends of ours have been down here every week helping us build stuff and put in floors and put up walls,” he noted. “It’s been fun.”
New floors and walls aren’t the only things that have been added to their location. The basement of the building is where the stills for the products are located, and the stills are something special, too, as Kingdom built them from scratch himself.
“The design is the same way they make it in the woods, with the exception of no open flame. I figured we had to go the safe way here, so they’re heated by electricity.”
They currently have four 55 gallon stills, which, depending on the mash used, can each produce anywhere from ten to 25 gallons of product per day, though he noted they aren’t trying to run them all at capacity all the time.
“We’re not looking to be huge, just medium-sized.”
The product line includes a bit of something for everyone.
They will, of course, have traditional corn whiskey, in both the clear, straight off the still variety, as well as aged whiskey and their “OMG – Oh My Goat” cinnamon whiskey. They are also producing rum made from molasses they have brought in from Lancaster County.
They are starting out with just a clear white rum, but hope to expand to have spiced rum in the future, added Kingdom.
“I just haven’t come up with a recipe I’m happy with yet.”
Along with the stronger drinks, they also have a product of their own design that they actually had trademarked with a little help from Penn State Small Business Development Center.
“It’s called Pennsylvania Shine Wine, and it’s 48.6 proof.”
Their Pennsylvania Shine Wine, which Kingdom describes as something like a cross between wine and a liqueur, will come in a variety of flavors, including cherry, red raspberry, and peach.
“It’s almost dangerous because it goes down almost like juice until you stand up.”
Some food will be available at the distillery, although they are not putting in a full restaurant or kitchen. However, they will have pre-packaged food available, including meat and cheese trays from The Olive Vault and items like salsa and hummus from Beelzebub’s Salsa, as well as popcorn and nachos.
While full meals aren’t on the menu at Grumpy Goat, Kingdom says he is hoping to work with some other local businesses on a good option for those who would like something more than a small snack with their drinks. He would like to offer the option of having people order take-out food from downtown restaurants, and have a “runner” on staff to pick the orders up and bring them back to the distillery.
“I think it would definitely be popular if it was raining or snowing.”
As far as the drink menu goes, they’re hoping to start simple and expand from there.
“The selection is going to be kind of limited when we first open, but as we grow our production will increase. We’re starting simple, but we might, down the road, get a little more fancy.”
Kingdom also noted that they’ll be starting out with a lot of friends volunteering their time to help out.
“We really just want to get the doors open. We kind of lucked out because we were really pushing to open by Applefest because it’s a perfect location.”
While getting their opening in before Franklin’s big festival was one goal, Kingdom also noted that he’s hoping their business will also help bring even more people into Franklin in the future.
“Franklin has become a destination-type town and the Pennsylvania Whiskey Trail has, over the past three or four years, had 2.5 million participants, but none of them were coming to Venango County because we didn’t have a distillery. Now that we do, it opens up that avenue.”
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