Local Hyattsville distillery expands to Takoma Park
BY EMELY MIRANDA-AGUILAR
Sangfroid Distilling’s owners Jeff Harner and Nate Groenendyk are expanding beyond Hyattsville. The owners bought a vacant and historic bank building in Takoma Park which they said would provide them a larger space for the production of their fruit brandies, dutch-style gins, rye whiskies, and more.
According to the owners, the bank’s solid and secure structure makes it the perfect place for them to work their magic.
“It’s built like a fortress,” said Harner, who lives in Takoma Park. “It has so much water capacity, so much power capacity, so much gas, and 49-foot ceilings and floors that are two-feet thick in concrete.”
The artisan distillery’s location in Hyattsville, at 5130 Baltimore Avenue, has been its production space since Sangfroid opened to the public in December 2018. However, production levels are limited by the size of the current location.
“We’ve been turning people down for the last five years because we can’t keep up with what they would demand us to supply,” Harner said.
With the new and larger space, Sangfroid will be able to produce up to seven times more spirits than is currently possible in Hyattsville, according to Harner. More importantly to the owners, they will have the capacity to barrel-age — the process of maturing a spirit within a barrel — 10 times as much.
Prior to Sangfroid’s opening, brothers-in-law Harner and Groenendyk were homebrewers and cider makers. Ten years ago, after trying a bottle of Calvados, a traditional French apple brandy, the owners became inspired. Shocked that no one in the U.S. was making traditional fruit brandies, the owners decided to work towards creating a drink of that nature.
“That started us on the path of grafting and growing the kinds of apples needed to make truly great brandy,” Harner said. “We started making grain-based spirits, too, and we’ve carried our same philosophy and approach into that as well.”
The fruit is either purchased from small orchards in Maryland and Pennsylvania or grown in Harner’s orchard (just outside Cumberland), which produces apples, pears and cherries.
Hannah McCann, formerly with GoBrent Realty, now with Feldman Ruel Urban Property Advisors, represented Harner and Groenendyk in brokering the $1.57 million transaction of the Takoma Park Bank, located at 6950 Carroll Avenue.
“Jeff and Nate approached me to discuss options for a second or larger space that would give them more space for manufacturing,” McCann said. “We looked at multiple properties before finding this unique off-market opportunity.”
Built in 1927, and operated as a bank until 2020, the 16,822-square-foot stone building has a unique Beaux-Arts architectural style, is considered a Takoma Park Historic District Outstanding Resource, and “has a prominent presence at the entry to Takoma Park’s business district,” according to McCann.
Harner said that Sangfroid Distilling will remain in Hyattsville as a single storefront, while production and distilling are relocated to Takoma Park. A small still will remain in Hyattsville for experiments and small batches.
Harner and his wife, who own the orchard, are working toward becoming self-sufficient in fruit production. They grafted their first trees in 2015 and have been working to rehabilitate the orchard to meet their production needs.
“Once we get [the orchard] to the mature trees that produce fruit yearly, I think that would be just the right size for the distillery,” Harner said.
The distillery’s Hyattsville storefront is open Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Online ordering is available at sangfroiddistilling.com.
Emely Miranda-Aguilar is a journalism student at the University of Maryland, College Park.