It may have been beer that put La Crosse on the map, but a state-of-the art craft distillery in a prime section of town is changing the game.
La Crosse, Wisconsin is a fun-loving beer town firmly planted in Packer Country. It was beer that put the idyllic little river town on the map, being home to G. Heileman Brewing for more than a century. It took the creativity of local family of developers to envision building a state-of-the art craft distillery in a prime section of town…but the concept gets even bigger.
La Crosse is located in a geological region known as the Driftless Area. The landscape is characterized by steep, forested ridges, deeply carved river valleys, spring-fed waterfalls and cold-water trout streams. It owes its abundance of natural beauty to the fact that it never got flattened by the last round of glaciers (hence, “driftless”).
LA CROSSE DISTILLING WANTED TO CREATE THE MOST SUSTAINABLE business MODEL THEY COULD.
Developer, entrepreneur and La Crosse native Nick Weber hoped to showcase the region in locally produced and bottled craft spirits. “We really wanted to emphasize the amazing, beautiful area that we live in, the Driftless,” Weber said. With the help of partner Chad Steahly and master distiller Mitch Parr, the La Crosse Distillery was conceived and executed.
In a previous interview, Staehly said, “We wanted to create the most sustainable business model we could.” No one can argue that they’ve remained true to that; La Crosse Distilling is a 100% certified organic facility, and they produce 100% organic spirits—accomplishing that largely by sourcing locally. The team has made good on that promise with the choices they’ve made with their structure as well, with the use of geothermal power, the deliberate placement of south-facing windows and an envelope built of structural precast.
Fabcon’s VersaCore + Green panels were a thoughtful choice. At R-28.2, the high-performance panels will help to conserve energy consumption for the life of the building…and they’re made with up to 58% recycled content.
“Precast comes with a long list of benefits. in this case, it certainly helped that the work could be completed in a very tight footprint and the crew was in and out quickly.”
“The distillery sits on a corner site in a part of town with banks, restaurants and other established businesses. Building with masonry block or a site-cast crew would have been incredibly disruptive and probably added empty cost,” remarked Joe Dammann, Fabcon Sales Engineer. The panels for this project were produced in the controlled environment of Fabcon’s Savage, Minnesota plant less than 150 miles away. The panels were produced ahead of time and stored at the plant until needed. Once the project site was ready, the panels were delivered sequentially, and Fabcon’s installation crew was in and out in three days. The project required slightly more than 240 linear feet of smooth, steel form finish structural precast panels, which were used to house the working side of the distillery and its loading dock. A considerable thermal value and four-hour fire rating were critical performance criteria.
“Precast construction comes with a long list of benefits…thermal performance, structural capabilities and even finish options. And in this case, it certainly helped that the work could be completed in a very tight footprint and the crew was in and out quickly,” said Matt Frydach, architect and partner at Kubala Washatko Architects. And thanks to the structural properties of the panels, there are no steel support columns in the middle of the production area—leaving more room for gleaming tanks, gravity filtration towers, bottling lines and pallets of locally produced grains.
The high-minded distillery is off to great start. Their commitment to sustainable practices as well as the local farming community is truly inspirational. Their building and their spirits are award-winning, proving you can do good and live well.