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Old St. Pete Spirits sues over faulty equipment

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The newly launched Old St. Pete distillery is suing Keller Mechanical and Engineering for selling a worthless piece of machinery used to distill spirits. According to a lawsuit filed in Pinellas County court Feb. 10, the company was hired to build a steam- and chilled water-cooling system.

According to Beverage Master, a craft spirits and brew magazine, “distillers will spend lots of time and money to add heat, steam, and energy to cook their mash and to run their still but completely overlook the equipment needed to remove that same heat from the system. Crash cooling a hot grain mash with chilled water can help to minimize bacterial growth.”

The machine Old St. Pete commissioned reportedly never worked. The lawsuit claimed distillers were “never able to get the system working.” The lawsuit claims the distillery lost “barrels for aging” and had to replace chillers and water and steam lines.

The lawsuit does not specify how long the distillery was inoperable as a result of the described malfunction. News reports show the distillery was close to completion in about January 2015 with an anticipated launch date the next month. However, the distillery didn’t officially launch until April.

The lawsuit also does not mention how much revenue was lost or how much the distillery is seeking in damages.

The distillery seems to be doing well despite its equipment trouble. Though only a year old, Old St. Pete was honored by Playboy Magazine as Florida’s top spirit for its Tippler’s Orange Liquor.

Old St. Pete prides itself on using local and fresh ingredients. The company’s website claims they hope to expand operation to export spirits to other places in the country and eventually the world spreading not just their product, but St. Pete as well.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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