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Introducing our Head Distiller Bill Auxier! Auxier comes to SCSW with more than a decade of brewing and distilling experience, including a background of building distilleries from inception. He will lead the distilling process at SCSW using a new column still that is capable of producing 8 gallons per minute, an improvement from the 5 gallons per hour in the existing still. The column still can run continuously without the need to stop and start between batches, and allows the distiller to create a cleaner, more pure product.
Where are you from?
I grew up outside of Chicago in the suburbs, Glen Ellyn to be specific.
How has your craft changed over time?
I think I’ve gotten more precise with the flavors. I did a lot of experimenting when I first started and learned a lot – both the good and the bad – and through that I am more likely to set a target and hit it than I used to.
What’s your “pre-creativity” ritual? What gets you in your creative groove?
Background music is a must so that’s probably the first thing. I’ll probably put something on really loud to start and sing along for a bit before I really get into doing anything. I also love sliding along the floor in my socks like a little kid. After that I’ll turn the volume to a reasonable level and get to work. Also snacks, I love having something to continually munch on and it keeps me from distracting myself by getting up and checking out what food is available.
Are there any new elements/styles/etc. that you hope to incorporate into your craft in the future?
There are always boundaries to push with flavors – I’ve always taken inspiration from both food and beer. If I go out to eat I’m always thinking about what flavors the chef has paired together in their dishes and if that can translate to a beverage.
What makes you feel connected to Surf City Still Works/HB/SoCal?
The atmosphere and personalities of the place. There’s a positivity but also a high standard – and passion – everyone has for the work getting done here.
If you had a superpower to benefit/amplify/inspire your craft, what would it be?
I think time travel to experience beverages through the ages. All the way back to the fermented beverages of Egypt to when distilling first started. It would be really cool to taste those products as they were made with the agriculture of the time.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Probably would be Party in the USA.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Slow down. I think we get caught up too much in things and if you try to go too fast things either get messed up or someone gets hurt.
Is this what you imagined yourself doing?
Not originally. I went to school for chemical engineering thinking I was going to do pharmaceutical research. Then mid-school I really enjoyed fluid dynamics and blood. Then came fermentation science and I focused on that and never looked back – I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to incorporate flavor and science!