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Infinite Potential: A look inside Infinity Beverages’s new digs

Garrett Denney, photos by Andrea Paulseth

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND. Infinity Beverages’ new location on Mall Drive greatly expands on the previous location’s production capacity and public offerings.
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND. Infinity Beverages’ new location on Mall Drive greatly expands on the previous location’s production capacity and public offerings.

Small batch wine and spirits have a big new home as one local company cuts the ribbon on a new production facility and tasting room.

Infinity Beverages recently moved its growing operation to a new location on Mall Drive in Eau Claire, a space that previously housed the Coffee Grounds.

“We had some pretty humble beginnings,” says founder, winemaker, and distiller Matthew Rick. “To have the growth we’ve had is just fantastic.”

“I don’t like rules. I don’t do rules here.” – Owner and founder Matthew Rick on Infinity Beverages’ ethos

Growth is an understatement. Founded in 2010 as a nighttime passion project, Infinity soon took on a life of its own as early customers gave rave reviews. Word began to spread and Rick soon had the opportunity to take the leap and work on the fledgling business full-time.

By 2012 the company was outgrowing its bootstrapped beginnings and needed a facility to house its growing footprint. In addition to industrial-grade space for winemaking and distilling, Rick kept an eye out for space that could handle an onsite tasting room as well.

“We couldn’t have found a better location to grow than Banbury Place,” says. “Jack Kaiser is the perfect guy to oversee that facility and was a huge supporter of us early on.”

Equipped with a new location and growing acclaim, it was there that Infinity took its operation to the next level. What was previously a modest offering of three wines soon grew into a robust portfolio of five wines, two ports, vodka, and two whiskeys.

It was also in Banbury that the company developed its now signature affinity for unusual twists on everyday beverages. While traditionalists can still enjoy a glass of classic red or white, Infinity’s craftsmanship really shines in its lines of experimental wines, vodkas, and whiskeys.

“Beersky” whiskey is Infinity’s collaboration with Sand Creek Brewing that builds two distinct, full-flavor edwhiskeys out of Sand Creek’s Doppelbock and Stout style beers.

“Our Chocolate Oatmeal Stout Beersky Whiskey sells better because it has chocolate in the name,” says Rick, “but I’m partial to the Doppelbock.”

The Doppelbock Beersky Whiskey is golden brown in color and carries hints of vanilla, a byproduct of Rick’s choice to use toasted barrels during production instead of the traditional charred.

“I don’t like rules. I don’t do rules here,” Rick said. “We don’t have to use charred so we don’t, and the final product is better for it.”

Eschewing tradition and embracing experimentation is clearly paying off. I consider myself a whiskey guy, but I still hesitated when offered a sample of the Doppelbock. I didn’t doubt Matthew’s craftsmanship as much as my palette. Would I enjoy a small-batch, locally made whiskey? The answer was a resounding yes. Sometime during production, the toasted barrels and Sand Creek beer translate to a balanced, smooth whiskey that is a joy to sip. Clearly this mad scientist knows exactly what he’s doing.

And while production methods may vary from year to year, quality control is one thing Rick keeps a very close watch over. That is to say, he tastes every batch before it earns the Infinity label. Tough job, right?

“I get that a lot, actually,” he says. “People think my days are 80 percent tasting wine and spirits. … In reality, it’s mostly cleaning. Sanitation is key. If you like to clean, you’d love making wine and spirits.”

These days you’ll often find Rick laboring over his still in the wee hours of the morning, shepherding product from the boiler to the bottle. This fall, Infinity will re-release a Barrel Aged Red Wine that first hit stores as a limited run last year and immediately sold out. The end of the year will see the limited release of a new Marion Berry brandy.

While the coming years are sure to bring even more fine wine and top-shelf spirits from Rick and his team, he is confident Infinity has found its long-term home.

“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “Eau Claire is where we want to be.”

Infinity Beverages Winery & Distillery • 3460 Mall Drive, Eau Claire • Monday-Thursday noon-9pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-midnight, Sunday 11am-4pm • (402) 374-6542 • infinitybeverages.com • Find it on Facebook