Davy Lindig: Steady on the still, he brews and cooks perfection
Portrait 2011 — Volume 2: Hot Right Now
Davy Lindig is alone on a Monday morning at Palisade’s Peach Street Distillers doing his favorite part of the job.
The front door is still locked to the public.
Lindig, production manager and head distiller at Peach Street, stirs a 130-gallon tub of mash and keeps a hillbilly, mad-scientist type grin on his face as Waylon Jennings’ song “I’ve Always Been Crazy” booms on a stereo system in a room housing both the tasting area and the still.
“Everything I distill has its own unique smell, but for some reason the bourbon really appeals to me,” said Lindig, 42.
Next to a table full of charts and measurements, Lindig punches numbers on a laptop computer, which spits out an equation saying sugar levels are right with his stew. It’s off to the still for this batch, the next step in a two-year-plus process of making bourbon at Peach Street.
Here, alone in the tasting room he’s labored in the past five years and accompanied by that alcohol, grainy, sour smell, life is good.
“Fermentation turns me on,” Lindig said. “I love starting with a few yeast cells and all of sudden you have a big party going on in there … watching it come to life. It’s all about building something from the ground up and making it good.”
Lindig has been a fixture at Peach Street since the doors opened in August 2005, which followed his roughly one-year stint as head brewer at the former Fruita Brewing Co. Lindig came to Grand Junction from Durango in 2003, knowing old friends from Durango were still working to open the Palisade distillery.
“He’s the backbone,” Peach Street co-owner Rory Donovan said of Lindig. “There was basically a two- to three-year stretch when it was me and Davy taking turns running the still and the tasting room, doing the books and getting the paperwork for the government.”
Through it all, Lindig has more or less been the man behind the scenes at Peach Street.
“He’s done a lot in his life but doesn’t advertise it,” Donovan said.
Lindig landed in the town of Homer, Alaska, in the early 1990s, which was where he said his interest in brewing and cooking was born.
“It was me and about seven other people living in what was basically a barn,” Lindig said. “We heated the place with coal we found on the beach … we were all just a bunch of hippies.”
Lindig drove a sewage truck at the time.
“Everybody had a job here and there,” he said.
In 1993 he was among a group of four who started home brewing in the basement of an art gallery in Homer. They formed the Q & Q Brewers Guild.
All four original members today still work, or own a business, in the brewing industry, Lindig said.
With his home-brew gear now permanently in tow, Lindig’s travels took him to Santa Fe, N.M., where he attended culinary school.
Working at a Durango restaurant, Lindig’s first big break brewing professionally came in 1997, when he was hired by Durango Brewing Co. Initially delivering product, he was head brewer within a year.
By 2003 he was ready for change and headed to Grand Junction.
“I was ready to get out of fermentation all together,” Lindig said.
But a visit to Durango’s Ska Brewing Co. changed everything. Lindig learned just before leaving town that Ska owners Bill Graham and Bill Thibodeau had tentative plans to open Peach Street.
“They were still a year out,” Lindig said. “My initial thought was, “I don’t even like booze, why would I do that?”
Five years later, he still manages to find time to home brew beer at nearby Palisade Brewery, while keeping a steady hand on the still at Peach Street.
Or, whipping up the occasional batch of sauerkraut, or homemade vinegar for customers or friends.
“I love making consumables, and I really hate the idea of using artificial flavors or colors, ” Lindig said. “If you’re making it artificial, you’re going backwards.”