Long Road Distillers fast approaching, owners Kyle Van Strien and Jon O’Connor recently welcomed Brian Pribyl as the company’s head distiller.
Pribyl comes to Grand Rapids with nearly a decade of fermentation and distilling experience, including stints at Rogue Ales & Spirits and two distilleries in Tennessee.
"Brian has a history of crafting quality products,"O’Connor said. "We saw an opportunity to bring him into a place where we have world-class beer, but we don’t have world-class spirits. This is an opportunity for him to not only make a career for himself, but to grow the craft culture in this great city!"
The idea of a long-term home helped bring Pribyl to Grand Rapids. He also liked the distillery’s philosophy of not cutting corners and helping reinvigorate the Leonard Street corridor.
"What I enjoyed about my conversation with Kyle and Jon is that they want to do it right, get all the spirits to the point where you can trace it back to where it came from,"Pribyl said. "I’m looking forward to getting everything up and running, getting the first product, third product and even the 100th product running through the still."
A high school project led to Pribyl brewing beer and, eventually, his choice to obtain a food science and technology in fermentation science degree at Oregon State University. While pursuing his degree, he worked at Benton Lane Winery for two harvest seasons.
From there, he moved to Rogue Ales & Spirits, which started as a brewing job but eventually saw his move to the company’s distilling operation.
Pribyl left Rogue to help start Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey, a brand started to honor legendary moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn"Sutton. From Popcorn Sutton’s Pribyl moved to Prichard’s Distillery in Fontanel, Tennessee to help establish their new and expanded operation.
The 28-year-old has helped several companies get their start, now Long Road and Pribyl hope this is a relationship that can last.
"His experience and background intrigued Kyle and me, and the prospect of him helping us create the brand was exciting,"O’Connor said. "The hope is Brian will be a part of this team for the long road."