If you are in the area and have not had the chance to get to Acre Distillery and Coffee House, you are missing out. I have been a fan of the distillery/bar/coffee-house/lounge/you-name-it, for months now ever since I first stepped inside for the first time. I recently was able to sit down with Tony Formby, who is the owner of Acre, and ask him a few questions about the business.
How did you come up with the concept for Acre?
Simply put, I didn’t. The concept morphed over time. After a stint at Rahr & Sons brewery where I owned half of the company and was the majority share holder, I decided to take a different direction. JB Flowers, an ex-brewer at Rahr, called me up one day and told me he wanted to start a distillery. We had both gotten a great knowledge of distribution at Rahr & Sons and set out to create Acre.
With plenty of downtown hotels, the Texas A&M law school and the University of Texas at Arlington-Fort Worth campus within a few blocks, we teamed up with the Avoca, a local coffee shop and began offering coffee with an in-house barista.
Around the same time we started Acre, legislation changed the rules to be to sell alcohol at the facility instead of through distribution only. This allows us to have multiple income streams from retail bottles, distribution, coffee sales, a few food items, the cocktail menu and also our tours and tasting every night at 6pm.
What is it like to distill on the original Hell’s Half Acre?
We don’t celebrate the history, but we can appreciate it. Hell’s Half Acre was a red light district, home to con-men, stage-coach drivers, and lots of other sketchy folks in the area and actually had major amounts of death from suicide. It’s not a bright past, but the brand and a lot of our bottles derive names from the history, such as: Longhair Jim. who was a Marshal back in the day, Timmy Gin, a saloon that originally stood a few blocks down, and future rum that will be named Hell’s Half Acre.
Where do you source the ingredients for the Acre spirits?
We try to source as much locally as possible but we mainly get a lot of our grains and corns from the Midwest. We do use local elderberry, oranges, lemons and cherries in our cocktail menu, though.
How did you decide what cocktails to put on the menu?
We like classic, pre-prohibition cocktails. It’s really a team effort between the bartenders and distillers. We enjoy getting creative with local ingredients, fresh juices and quality tonic water.