New Brunswick Growers Launch Vodka Venture

Published online: Jun 09, 2017 Articles Shelley Steeves
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A family of New Brunswick potato growers are getting into the booze business by making vodka from potatoes. Blue Roof Distillers has joined a small handful of distillers in Canada making the product.

“We are pretty excited to roll it out, and we hope it does well,” says Devon Strang, 25, who wanted to find a way to profit from the potatoes the family grows that are too small to sell in grocery stores.

The Strang family has been farming in the community of Malden, New Brunswick, since 1855. For decades, the blue roofs on their barns have symbolized potatoes. Now, they also represent their new line of ultra-premium Blue Roof vodka.

Potato vodka has been around since the days of the backyard still, but this operation is a first for New Brunswick. Strang says 30 bags of potatoes are dumped, skin and all, into a massive cooker, where the starch in the tubers is broken down into what used to be called potato champagne.

He said the Strangs’ brand is unique because they don’t use flaked potatoes, instead choosing to cook the potatoes whole, and “we don’t add malted barley, so we can call our vodka a gluten-free vodka at the end process.”

It was an idea born in the heart of Strang, who was thinking of his mother.

“My mother has celiac disease,” he says, “so it’s always been in the back of my mind.”

He says while there may be only traces of gluten molecules left behind in conventional vodka made from grain, some people who are gluten-sensitive can have adverse reactions to it. So the Strangs decided to make their product certified gluten-free.

The family plans to start out small and bottle the product by hand until people get a taste for it.

“I am hoping we are going to sell out and continue to sell out for the first few years until we have more money to invest in more equipment tanks and an automated bottling line,” Strang says.

The first bottles were corked this week, and even Devon’s grandfather, Robert Strang, who been growing only potatoes for more than 40 years, approves of the new venture.

“I had a couple of tastes of it already,” Robert says. “It passes inspection.”

The first batch of Blue Roof vodka will be available in the farm’s storefront this week and in New Brunswick liquor stores sometime in the next week, with plans to spread the vodka throughout Canada.

Source: Global News