Near the beginning of 2018, the small city of Granbury, Texas, welcomed its first distillery near its historic downtown square — but that’s not what makes the Local Goat so unique.
While its ambiance and hoodwink exterior is undoubtedly inspired by 1930s speakeasies — a popular fad popping up in most cities — this distillery is the only one in the nation that uses the ingredient of whey (the watery part of milk that remains after the formation of curds) to produce its vodka. While curds go on to become cheese, whey is thought of as a waste product. But, in the 1970s, when a company invested in spirits happened to own a dairy products manufacturer, it discovered a way to turn this waste into revenue. And Local Goat hopes to be at the forefront of its use stateside.
Yet, this is merely one of the many ways Local Goat uses byproducts to produce delicious spirits.
Before opening the distillery, owners Roger and Jessica Wall had first dreamed of owning a raw milk dairy on their goat farm. When they became pregnant with their son, Eli, the couple made the joint decision to travel a different business route.
“I told him, ‘I am not milking goats while I’m pregnant,’” Jessica says. “So, we decided to switch gears and make alcohol instead because it was also one of Roger’s dreams.”
They sold their goat farm, but instead of completely abandoning the idea of milk products, they decided to merge both dreams together.
After months of discussion and hard work, Local Goat made its debut in a discreet building off North Houston Street on Feb. 20 — where they now serve a homemade, high-end selection of vodka, rum and gin, most of which Roger and Jessica create from waste products.
To this thrifty couple, what’s one man’s trash is truly their treasure — and their business model. “Anything we can get our hands on that’s a waste product, we like to try to make something beautiful out of it,” Roger says.
The molasses used in the rum is waste from the production of sugar, and the whey used in their vodka and gin is scrap from the Veldhuizen Cheese farm in Dublin, Texas. And, to take their frugality to the next level, some vodka products even use doughnuts purchased from local shops.
“All these doughnut stores around have to legally throw their stuff out at the end of the day if it doesn’t sell, so we just take it and we process it like we would with anything else.”
Along with the creativity and hard labor it takes to perfect the final products, Roger’s work as a supervisor in the Air Force Fuels Laboratory helped prepare him for the hard work and science behind becoming an entrepreneur in the distillation business.
“I tested fuel and did a lot of the same kind of processes that we do in the distillation world,” Roger says. “All you need to make liquor is sugar, water and yeast. The whole process is just taking a liquor and make it a vapor and then making it a liquid again.”
It comes naturally and easily to him, he says, but he also has a great passion for it, and that’s where the success meets the business.
Soon after its arrival, the distillery expanded into a full mixology bar and restaurant, featuring a plethora of original drinks, tacos, sandwiches and other appetizer-styled food items.
One of the local Granbury restaurants, Christina’s, helped develop the restaurant menu, and some of its workers volunteered to help in the kitchen.
The Carne Asada Street Tacos — made of cilantro, onion, jalapeño aioli and queso fresco — and the Elotes Loco — a Mexican street corn covered in Sriracha mayo and hot spice mix — are two of its most popular items.
“I never wanted to have a bar or restaurant, but in order to make alcohol, which is my passion, I had to have it to support me doing my thing,” Roger says. “So, if we’re going to have a bar, it’s going to be a darn good one, and that’s why we decided to go the mixology route.”
Most of the cocktail drinks have 10 to 15 ingredientseach and are modeled after beverages from the pre-Prohibition era. One of the most popular is the Billy Goat Gimlet, a cocktail served with cryogenic botanical vodka. Upon ordering, customers will see their drinks being frozen through the use of liquid nitrogen. Then, they can expect to taste a complementing blend of sugar, lime and rosewater.
It also serves traditional bar drinks with its own little twist, like the Moscow Mule — called the Texas Peach Mule — made of peach vodka, peach puree, lemon and ginger beer. Its House Bloody Mary is served with a piece of goat jerky.
“It’s something you don’t see in traditional bars; that’s what makes us a mixology bar,” Jessica says.
The restaurant and bar are open for dinner-only Tuesday through Thursday, and both lunch and dinner Friday through Sunday. During the weekend hours, customers can meet the famous goats, Eureka and Houston, who inspired the labels of the Local Goat Vodka, Silver Rum and Texas Gin bottles. Customers are also given the opportunity to tour the distillery by scheduling online.
The owners have also started a farmers market, which is open every other week. While they don’t make their profits from the event, the owners just want to give the community an opportunity to sell local items since the community has supported the distillery so well.
“The city has been very supportive,” Jessica says. “Granbury has been awesome.”
The Walls say they have plans to expand the location with a craft beer operation and cigar lounge someday.
“No one else is doing it, so why not,” Roger says. “We want to be the oasis in the desert.”
By Brandi Addison and Marissa Alvarado