'Holy' spirits: Colorado pastor starts distillery

A longtime pastor in Fort Collins is really getting into the "spirit" of his hobbies: homebrewing and winemaking.

A Fort Collins pastor is getting in touch with a different type of spirit.

Hans Breuer, executive pastor at Vineyard Church of the Rockies, is opening Big Fat Pastor Spirits with his children at 6754 N. Franklin Ave. in Loveland, near the town’s border with Fort Collins.

“We like to challenge cultural paradigms,” said Breuer, a pastor of 27 years including 18 in Fort Collins. “If you think back, Jesus’ first miracle was making alcohol.”

The craft distillery's products debuted on shelves at RJ's Wine & Spirits liquor store in Fort Collins' Front Range Village shopping center earlier this week. The company is looking to self-distribute to other liquor stores and restaurants.

Big Fat Pastor Spirits will host a grand opening this weekend from 2-8 p.m. Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. The taproom will eventually have regular Friday and Saturday hours.

Breuer has been homebrewing and winemaking as a hobby since moving to Fort Collins.

“We always called (the homebrews) ‘Big Fat Pastor beer,’” said Lindsey Preller, Breuer’s daughter. “It was an inside joke.”

Breuer is now looking to leave a legacy business for his three children, who are all involved with the distillery. He consulted with more than 30 other distilleries to get advice before opening, figuring spirits was a less-crowded local market to enter than brewing.

Big Fat Pastor Spirits has been in the works since 2012. The distillery is on its seventh building lease, as the operation ran into numerous building and fire code challenges. The most previous lease at a location off U.S. Highway 34 was foreclosed on before the facility could open.

“They say you have to be extremely stubborn to open a distillery,” Preller said. “Thankfully we are all German.”

The distillery is launching with a gin and a vodka. A Bourbon-style whiskey, an American-style malt whiskey and an apple brandy are also on the way.

The taproom will eventually feature cocktails.

The Breuer family deconstructed their favorite brands to develop the recipes, and have partnered with Loveland’s Root Shoot Malting and Old Town Spice Shop for ingredients.

Breuer, the operation’s head distiller, said he’s enjoyed learning the science behind making spirits. He’s named the equipment “Still Murray” after his favorite actor, Bill Murray — a portrait of the comedian is on display in the distillery. Preller’s husband Daniel is the assistant distiller.

And the longtime Fort Collins pastor is finally fulfilling his dream of sharing a different type of spirit with the people of Northern Colorado.

“I picture myself not just pressing on the gas pedal, but I’m actually on the gas pedal, leaning forward and my face is rippling in the wind,” Breuer said. “After all we’ve been through, it’s surreal to finally be opening.”

Follow Jacob Laxen on Twitter and Instagram @jacoblaxen.

The Coloradoan


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