- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - There’s a new vodka in town.

Though Syntax was founded three years ago 40 miles from here, its line of spirits only recently started appearing on the shelves at a few of Cheyenne’s liquor stores.

Behind the vodka’s label of the fantasy woman striking a heroic pose with a kayak paddle is a product that’s just about 100 percent pure Greeley, Colorado.

If that sounds like a bottle of you-know-what, that probably comes from driving southbound on U.S. Highway 85 a time or two, an experience that can assault the senses at certain times of the year: eyes watering from the fertilizer fumes, nostrils pinched while passing the meat plant.

But turn left at the first light in town, head into the industrial area and stop at an old cement factory. An entirely different kind of Greeley ag experience awaits.

It’s less factory farm, more fun. Because, as Heather Bean says, drinking should be fun.

Three years ago, after Bean left her job at Hewlett Packard, she and friend Jeff Copeland started selling spirits from their distillery.

It’s a true “grain to glass” operation, Bean said. They buy the corn, wheat and barley grown by local farmers from a grain elevator in Eaton, Colorado, loading them into the bed of her 1959 GMC pickup truck.

“Lots of grain grows around here, which makes this a great location for the distillery,” Bean says.

And the grain is turned into spirits right there in the old cement warehouse. The grains — type and combination varying based on the type of alcohol they want to make in this batch — are ground, mashed and fermented. Then the resulting alcohol is distilled — impurities removed for smoothness — diluted to drinking strength, bottled, labeled and boxed for shipment.

And just beyond an art fence is the tasting room, where you can sip on cocktails made from the small-batch spirits and homemade infusions.

The tasting room has the vibe of a comfortable coffee house. There’s art for sale on the walls, local music plays on weekends, and the din is low enough for conversation.

Even the children playing with a beanbag toss on a recent Saturday night — their parents sipping cocktails on a sofa — didn’t seem out of place.

There you have it, Greeley’s version of unlocking spirits from water and grains.

Syntax is part of the growing craft spirits movement.

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