Distillery owner will give downtown a shot


BEEVILLE – “Our real goal is to bring people to downtown Beeville,” attorney Kenneth Bethune told the City Council Tuesday evening.

In fact, he hopes people will be pouring into this community to sample his “artisan” distilled spirits.

Bethune is the new owner of what was once the Grant Lumber Co. and later the Skidmart Lumber Co. property.

Currently, workmen are removing the asbestos-based siding from what was once the retail store at the lumber yard, in order to provide the natural setting for his craft distillery.

That building will remain and will be completely remodeled to provide a place in the front where visitors relax in what Operations Manager Travis Arreaga said earlier Tuesday would be an “event bar.”

The bar will specialize in serving some of the rum and bourbon that will be made at the distillery.

That new building will be located on the north side of the property where the lumber storage barn now stands. Demolition of that structure should begin soon.

The back side of the existing building will be used to store dry products that will be used in the distillery.

Bethune told the council that the staff at the Coastal Bend Distilling Co. should be producing 900 cases of various spirits in the first year of production here.

The owner said he plans to have a “courtyard” space between the existing building and the new distillery. That area will be a good spot for parties and other events.

Bethune told the council that he had initially looked at property in the downtown area for the new business and ended up looking at property just east of the city.

But the company ran up against some regulatory issues with the state, and Bethune took his search back to the downtown area.

That was when he was able to work out a deal with the owner of the former Skidmart facility.

Bethune, who also owns a men’s clothing store downtown at 108 W. Corpus Christi St., said the sale of the Skidmart facility closed just recently, and he quickly put contractors to work on the facility.

In addition to the Bethune and Son clothing business, the company owner also is working as the interim athletic director at Coastal Bend College.

The distillery will bring in molasses to be used in the liquor-making process, and locally grown corn will be trucked in for the production of the bourbon.

A 300-gallon “artisan” still will be brought in during the construction of the distillery, and windows in the building will provide a way for visitors to look inside at the copper fixtures that will be used in the production of the spirits.

Bethune said Beeville may never catch up with Fredericksburg, as a tourist attraction but he has plans to bring visitors to the city by hosting live events, music and festivals.

“We see lots of growth opportunities,” Bethune said. He knows of only two distilleries located south of San Antonio now. Those include a vodka distillery in Sandia and a moonshine distillery in Sinton.

That should mean that the Coastal Bend Distilling Co. should be able to attract a considerable number of customers interested in providing locally-made spirits for this part of the state.

“Hopefully,” Bethune said, “we can bring some people back downtown.”

Mayor David Carabajal thanked Bethune for choosing Beeville as the location for his business.

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